Editor:  De Redactie • Photographer:  Lutske Veenstra • Publication:  28 February 2023

Local Heroes

Local Heroes

Merel van Helsdingen of Nxt Museum on new media art

Merel van Helsdingen is pioneer and the driving force behind Nxt Museum, the very first museum in the Netherlands for digital art that provides access to multi-sensory art installations. Developed through interdisciplinary collaborations between artists, scientists, artists, technicians and designers.


In a large, black building of 1400 m2 in Amsterdam-Noord, you step into a world of large-scale, digital art installations that broaden your view and sharpen the senses. Merel van Helsdingen: “We want people to think about the impact of technology on our lives.” In the futuristic world of Nxt Museum, using new artworks via avatars, video games and digital fashion, you interact with the deeper worlds of humans in the virtual world.


What does it take to open a museum like Nxt?
“A lot! Because it is such a new form of art, and there is nothing quite like it, it was important to travel a lot and learn from festivals, events and similar museums abroad. What is needed? In terms of the building, but also in terms of art: what is the creative direction we want to take? The entire preliminary phase of research has been very important. The second important aspect was finding the location: it is such a specific location that is needed and Amsterdam has such a high demand and low supply when it comes to real estate.

And then also in Amsterdam-Noord, because that is the perfect place for the modern visitor, off the beaten track and multi-cultural. The third part is putting together a business plan. Unlike more traditional museums, which often start with a collection, a location, or a legacy that they build on – it started with a business case for us. We want to show one hundred percent new media art and we started with the question: what is needed and how are we going to do this?”


How is Nxt ground-breaking?
Nxt is the homebase for art and technology, we have built a place where we focus purely on ‘tech art’, which does not exist on this scale in the Netherlands. In addition, we not only exhibit art in a large-scale, all-encompassing way, but we invest in the art through the development of new works. We have an extensive educational program focused on technological development within the arts for young and old, emerging and established artists and people who are just coming to see and want to know more. Nxt Lab is the place for experimentation and Nxt Stage is where this occasionally manifests itself on a large scale, such as big parties during ADE.

“When art and technology come together in an installation, I often also have a physical reaction. I can really get goosebumps.”

What is the message behind Nxt?
“For me personally: think about the impact of technology on our lives and on our identity. We want people to think about the future in an era where technology will play an increasingly important role. We address various sub-topics, such as facial recognition software, climate change, identity, anonymity and the role of deep fakes in the current communication landscape. We want people to walk out of Nxt and think, wow, these are all kinds of new technologies that have crept into our lives. What is the impact of that?”


How would you describe the art you experience within the walls of Nxt?
“We say: ‘our artists are using modern tools to embody modern times.’ I really like that. We show the art of the present, where artists use the tools they have today: technology, science, sound and the latest forms of media. We talk about topics of the future. We do not show retrospectives, but rather art that addresses relevant topics and the social and technological challenges of today, such as digital personalities in virtual worlds.”

“What I think is most important is that we show works that have a certain message and depth. Something that really teaches you something or makes you think.”

Nxt Museum
Asterweg 22, Amsterdam
In the neighbouhood


Nxt Museum
Asterweg 22, Amsterdam


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