The Rijksmuseum is teeming with more than a thousand colourful butterflies, hairy spiders and glistening toads. The more than 140 paintings, sculptures, books and preserved specimens reflect the ever-changing perceptions of crawly creatures in the arts and sciences.


Crawly Creatures takes a close look at these changing perceptions in 140 objects, with highlights including the first drawing that took an insect as its main subject, made in 1505 by Albrecht Dürer, and Peter Paul Rubens’ Head of Medusa (1617-18). And we discover how this emerging appreciation for crawly creatures gave rise to a new painting genre known as sottobosco, meaning ‘forest flora and fauna’. The inventor of the genre, Otto Marseus van Schrieck, even bred reptiles, amphibians and insects himself. See for yourself how Sottobosco paintings merge the arts and sciences, in the final gallery of the exhibition.

From the 17th century to the present day

How do we see these little beings today? Are they really creepy crawlies at all? Only now, when it’s perhaps too late, are we realising how important they are to our ecosystems.

The exhibition also features work by the contemporary artists Tomás Saraceno and Rafael Gomezbarros.

This exhibition runs concurrently with the Clara the Rhinoceros exhibition.


A workshop Making Ants and an audio tour: there are several ways to delve into de exhibition’s subjects. The audio tour, with Sosha Duysker and curators Jan de Hond and Gijs van der Ham, guides you along the art works in the exhibitions.


The exhibition is accompanied by the book Crawly Creatures, with contributions from Jan de Hond, Eric Jorink, Hans Mulder and others.

Do you have entomophobia or arachnophobia?

On your way to the exhibition, you will come across an artwork called Casa Tomada by Rafael Gomezbarros. Here you can see a large number of magnified ants. For people with entomophobia (fear of insects), this might trigger reactions. There are no live animals in the exhibitions. However, there is an artwork consisting of real spider webs. For people with arachnophobia, this could trigger reactions. You can skip this room.


The exhibition is made possible in part by a private donor through the Rijksmuseum Fonds and Stichting Thurkowfonds.

30 Sept. - 15 Jan. 2023
Philips wing


  • Adults: €20
  • Free for 18 and under
  • Free for Friends

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Start time

A visit starts with a start time. You can book one here.

Only Friends of the museum can come when they want without making a booking.


Museumstraat 1
1071 XX Amsterdam


Wheelchair access
Guide dogs allowed
Lifts on every floor


In the whole museum you can only pay with your favourite digital payment method or credit card. This applies to all shops and catering outlets.


Free cloak room
Photography allowed
Free WiFi

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