Institut Neerlandais and the Fondation Custodia in Paris

The Institute Neerlandais is the Netherlands Cultural Centre in Paris that was founded by a Dutch art collector, which combines exhibitions and a museum along with numerous cultural activities, meetings, courses and much more.

About Institut Neerlandais and the Fondation Custodia

The building itself was a former mansion house, but after World War II, a Dutch art collector by the name of Frits Lugt purchased the building and started to put his private collection of drawings, paintings and prints within it, which was known as the Fondation Custodia.
Institut Neerlandais and Fondation Custodia
It was ten years later in 1957 that he founded to the Institut Neerlandais as a centre to promote Dutch culture and being one of the oldest foreign cultural centres in Paris, since then the amount of art works has continued to grow and has become a place for exhibitions, although these are forever changing.

In fact, Frits Lugt had a very extensive collection of artworks from famous artists such as Rembrandt and one particular exhibition highlighted works of Rembrandt and other artists that he knew, which were all from the original private collection of this museum in Paris.

There is also an extensive historical library that was put together by Fritz Lugt, which has been expanded by the Fondation Custodia, which now contains over 140,000 volumes on Western Art, along with over 10,000 books and exhibition catalogues that relate to American art from the 18ths century through to the 1980s.

In fact, there is also another foundation within this cultural arts centre in Paris, which is called the Terra Foundation for American Art, and first established back in 1978, they opened up a branch at the Fondation Custodia in 2009, where cultural activies including conferences and lectures are conducted on American art.
So do not think that you will only get to see the Frits Lugt collection within the museum of the Institut Neerlandais, as there are often different exhibitions of art works displayed in a comfortable, yet smallish and intimate space, rather than the permanent collection.

To give you an idea, during May and June 2013, there were works from three conceptual Dutch artists being shown, during January to April 2018 there were two separate exhibitions taking place called Portrait Miniatures and Art on Paper from recent acquisitions the Fondation Custodia had obtrained.

Now, you will find that there are in fact two different buildings, as on the street side you have the Institut Neerlandais that also provides language courses, literature, dance and music events along with Dutch cinema films, plus there is an extensive library and a multimedia centre as well as the art exhibitions.

But by crossing the courtyard, you will get to the original mansion house called the Hotel Turgot, which is where the Frits Lugt museum collection is housed by the Fondation Custodia who is still in charge of the whole collection and museum.
Lounge area at Institut Neerlandais
Frits Lugt book at Institut Neerlandais
So, at certain times there are guided tours organised at the Hotel Turgot around the different rooms that make you feel like you have gone back in time, but also parts of the original collection are available for viewing by prior appointment.

Visiting Institut Neerlandis and the Fondation Custodia

The Institut Neerlandais, Netherlands cultural centre along with the Fondation Custodia and the Terra Foundation for American Art are open for exhibitions on a Tuesday to a Sunday from noon through to 6pm, but times do vary for other activities that are organised here, however, it is always closed on a Monday.

As for the Fondation Custodia, to view parts of the Frits Lugt collection, the Hotel Turgot is open on a Monday to Friday from 10am through to 1pm, but this is only via prior appointment.

In addition to this, we would like to point out that the library is open from 2pm through to 6pm, however, rare and valuable books along certain letters from artists, drawings, etc that are fragile are only able to be viewed by prior appointment.
Furniture and paintings at Institut Neerlandais
As we quickly mentioned above, there are guided tours organised throughout the year and normally these are held on set Saturdays each month, with a duration of one hour.  You may also be pleased to know that these are completely free of charge, yet these do have to be booked well in advance although they are only available in French at present.

Normally you have to book at least two to three months in advance or longer depending upon the time of year, otherwise you may well be disappointed and to give you an idea, when writing this, the next available guided tour that is not fully booked is four months away!

Access to Institut Neerlandais and the Fondation Custodia

When it comes to getting here via public transport, you will find that the nearest Metro Station is called the Assemblee Nationale stop serving line 12, but a little bit further to the west and you have the Invalides stop serving lines 8 and 13.  This is also an RER train station, which serves the RER C line, as does the Musee d’Orsay stop to the east, right by the Musee d’Orsay museum.

Yet bear in mind that this cultural centre is also close to the River Seine, which means that the Batobus water bus also stops nearby, plus the bus lines 24, 63, 72, 73, 83, 84, 93 and 94, along with the Noctilien Night Bus Service via Lines N01, N11 and N24 will also get you within easy reach of the Institut Neerlandais and the Fondation Custodia Musee Frits Lugt Collection, and many other tourist attractions in Paris such as Les Invalides.