A Curator’s Guide to Foam Museum in Amsterdam

Nestled against the picturesque Keizersgracht, Foam Museum in Amsterdam has become a destination for Dutch and international photography lovers. We joined the museum's Curator of Public Practice, Osasu Aghafua, to look at upcoming exhibitions such as 'Fonāna' and Foam Talent, and the in-house (and online) gallery Editions.

Foam is our go-to recommendation for places to visit in Amsterdam. Osasu, can you share more about your role and what you enjoy most about being part of the team?

As curator of Public Practice I’m responsible for the public programming at Foam. These programs are in light of various museum activities such as our exhibitions and Foam Magazine. Besides the museum activities, I also program around themes such as Pride. The aim is to provide diverse ways for people to explore and learn about the museum's activities and themes we address. What I cherish most is the space Public Practice creates for exploration, self-reflection, and dissecting various perspectives. Our team works collectively to engage audiences locally and internationally.

Could you tell us more about the founding of Foam?

Foam opened its doors in December 2001 as an international and multifaceted museum for photography. Through our programming (exhibitions, public programming, debates, and an extensive educational program), we connect different views, visions, and perspectives that invite people to explore.

We try to make photography accessible to everyone. We believe in the power of photography to connect and encourage dialogue. In the museum there are exhibitions of established artists and emerging talents, so there is always something new to discover.

We show around 25 exhibitions each year. The museum has shown exhibitions from famous artists such as Anton Corbijn, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Helmut Newton and Vivian Maier. The more recent exhibition of The Walter Collection (with work by J.D. Ojeikere), Paul Kooiker and Ernest Cole were personal highlights for me. Currently we have the first solo exhibition of international fashion photographer Carlijn Jacobs, who also worked with Sir Hotels in the past.

Are there any hidden gems in the museum that people might miss?

I would say that my favorite hidden spot in the museum is our in-house (and online) gallery Foam Editions, which is not so much hidden, but mostly overlooked as it is on the top floor.

In the gallery, visitors can find exclusive photo prints or signed photo books. It’s worth visiting and the art ranges from 95-euro to 2.000 euro.

Looking forward, Osasu, what exhibitions or projects are you most excited about in 2024?

I’m really excited about our current exhibition ‘Fonana’, which highlights the perspectives of contemporary Saudi female artists. Besides this, I am looking forward to our upcoming Foam Talent exhibition. This is a group exhibition featuring twenty selected photographers from all over the world. They have been selected from a pool of 2,480 submissions which have been sent in from 106 countries. The exhibition showcases a broad spectrum of artistic focus and creative ingenuity. The exhibition will be on from the 23rd of February until the 22nd of May.

Next fall we will open a big show of the famous Dutch artist Viviane Sassen. She is known for her surrealistic colorful artwork and uses mixed media incorporating photography, painting, collage, and video and fashion photography.