Amsterdam Museum Offers Visitors Rembrandt-Themed Tattoos

Get ready for the Poor Man's Rembrandt Project

Participants dressed in period costume pose in a live re-enactment of the painting "Night Watch" by Rembrandt at The Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam on February 2, 2019.
KOEN VAN WEEL/AFP via Getty Images

The right visit to the right museum at the right time can leave a mark on you. Usually, though, that’s meant figuratively rather than literally. In the case of a forthcoming exhibition at Amsterdam’s Rembrandt House Museum (otherwise known as Museum Rembrandthuis), some visitors will exit the museum with a very clear reminder of the sights they saw inside. That’s because the museum is working with a local tattoo parlor to inscribe Rembrandt-inspired illustrations on the bodies of certain museumgoers.

An article by Teresa Nowakowski at Smithsonian Magazine has more details on the program, known as the “Poor Man’s Rembrandt Project.” In late June 2023, four tattoo artists will be on hand in the museum, charging between $109 and $272 for tattoos inspired by the life and artwork of one Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.

An update on the museum’s Instagram account notes that the artists are booked solid, but that some walk-in spots are available.

Henk Schiffmacher of Schiffmacher & Veldhoen expounded on the name of the program in a recent statement. “Worldwide, more tattoos are sold than works of art to hang on your wall,” Schiffmacher said. “An old tattoo artist once called tattoos ‘The Poor Man’s Rembrandt’: a work of art that is more affordable than a painting by one of the old masters, but no less carefully executed and selected.”

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This isn’t the only case of fine art and tattoos converging. In 2018, artist Doreen Garner included tattooing as part of her residency at the Brooklyn art space Pioneer Works. David Shrigley has also factored tattoos — both temporary and permanent — into some of his events in the past. And now, evidently, we can add Rembrandt’s name to that list.

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