Currents. The Zaan in motion

September 29, 2023 – extented until May 5, 2024

A photography exhibition of new work by Bert Verhoeff and David Galjaard

The Zaanstreek, or Zaan region, is the oldest industrial area of Europe. Along the banks of the river Zaan, the lifeblood of the region, distinctive industry has been in steady retreat in recent years. Vacant factory buildings are demolished or assigned new purposes, with different residents or users. Many industrial areas in the Netherlands are undergoing major spatial and social transitions of this kind, but the change is nowhere more visible than along the Zaan. A unique feature of the Zaanstreek is that industrial activity is not disappearing altogether, giving rise to an exceptional mix of living and working.

The exhibition

Documentary photographers Bert Verhoeff and David Galjaard are new residents of the Zaanstreek. They have made a record of the tipping point the region finds itself at.

‘When David and I came to live here at more or less the same time, we were very surprised at how people and their work come together here. The contrast between the encroaching housing developments and the still present industry was calling out to be recorded.’
Bert Verhoeff

In 125 new images, the two photographers have captured an exciting portrait in time of a developing region. Social housing next to towering silos, swimsuits next to old food factories, recreational boats among metres-long flatboats. They also made portraits of old and new residents of the area.

Verlaten Pakhuis, Wormerveer, Wormer, 2020, Bert Verhoeff

Floris Alkemade and Tim Knol

‘The Zaanstreek is one of those areas where production and consumption – domains generally careful to avoid each other – now seem to be merging. It provides an exciting spectacle.’
Floris Alkemade

The exhibition is placed in a regional and national context by Floris Alkemade and Tim Knol. Their voices can be heard in audio tours. Alkemade, architect and former government architect, places the transition along the Zaan in a broader Dutch national perspective and has contributed an essay to accompany the exhibition. Musician Tim Knol engaged in conversation with the residents portrayed: how do they experience the transition along the Zaan? He describes the Zaan and captures it in a song, put to music in a soundtrack written especially for the exhibition: Currents.


Accompanying the exhibition, a publication of the same name will appear: Currents. The Zaan in Motion. This photography book traces Verhoeff and Galjaard’s walk along the Zaan, from north to south, from Westknollendam to Zaandam. An introductory essay by Alkemade and perceptive texts by Verhoeff provide a context for the photography. The reader shares the experiences of the photographers. The book is published by Uitgeverij Noord-Holland and the Zaans Museum.

‘Take a look around
Let your eyes follow the stream
Of the river that always keeps
us company’

Tim Knol in the song Currents, which he wrote especially for the exhibition

Lassie fabriek Zaandam
Toos Smit, zwemmen in de Zaan

Your Zaan

For more than three years, Bert Verhoeff and David Galjaard photographed the changing environment along the river Zaan. The results can soon be seen at the exhibition Currents. The Zaan in Motion at the Zaans Museum. Still, the region is always in motion. We would therefore like to invite you to add to the photo project. Take a picture of your changing Zaan. Who knows, your photograph might soon be on display in the museum!

More information

Pages from the publication Currents. The Zaan in Motion.

The exhibition Current. De Zaan in motion and the accompanying photo book are made possible by: Mondriaan Fonds, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Noord-Holland, Gerrit Blaauw Fonds, Reint Laan Fonds, Honig-Laan Fonds, P.M. Duyvisfonds en Bredenhof Stichting.