Kunsthalte (Witte de Withstraat Tram Stop) – Rotterdam, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura

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Kunsthalte (Witte de Withstraat Tram Stop)

An art installation memorializing a tram stop, which became a tram stop. 


Most people don’t look twice at a bus or tram stop, as they are usually just generic components of the urban setting. What does get noticed, though, is if a transit hub up and disappears. That’s exactly what happened at the Museumplein, or Museumpark, in Rotterdam. And they would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for John Blake.

In 1994, the “Witte de Withstraat” tram stop was removed by the RET, Rotterdam’s transit authority, as it seemed unnecessary given the amount of alternative stops in the area. There was an uproar from local storeowners and the museums on the square, and the RET, surprised out the outburst, reinstated the stop the following year. But one artist—John Blake— decided to double-down on the artistic community’s commitment to the tram stop.

Blake built an exact replica of a tram stop at the former location, the only difference being that it was completely white and devoid of commercials or time tables. Blake also erected a plinth on the opposite canal with the bust of a neck, as an additional sculptural feature.

This new, blank tram stop at Museumplein was an art piece, but when the RET reinstated the stop year later, the company could not resist including Blake’s artwork as one of their own.

Still at Museumplein today, Blake’s ironic piece of protest art has become a functional tram stop. Respecting Blake’s original intentions, the RET never repainted the piece or put up ads. It remains a bizarre, all-white tram stop in the city, the only one of its kind.

Know Before You Go

The stop is open to the public. If you go by tram, exit at the 'museumplein' stop. There are no markings or signs, the only way to recognize this stop as art is by its color, and the neck statue on the opposite bank of the canal.

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January 29, 2020

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