Our history

The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK) was founded in 1682 as the Haagsche Teeken-Academie (or ‘The Hague Drawing Academy’). Drawing classes were held for the public in the evenings and the society debated about art on Saturdays.

In the 18th century The Hague Drawing Academy was a thriving institution. In 1821 the academy merged with the newly established School of Civil Engineering. After being housed in the buildings Korenbeurs and Boterwaag in 1839, the academy moved into a new neoclassical building on the Prinsessegracht, designed by city architect Zeger Reyers (1790-1857). In the 19th century famous artists Johannes Bosboom, Isaac Israels, Willem Maris, Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch and George Hendrik Breitner attended the academy.

Under the influence of, amongst others, the Bauhaus movement, interest arose for the applied arts. In 1929 the Academy offered the course ‘Advertorial Drawing and Furniture Construction’. Under the direction of teachers like Kiljan, Citroen, Schuitema and Alons courses like these expanded into the independent departments ‘Graphic and Typographic Designing and Interior’.

In 1938 a new building was constructed at the original location. The building, designed by Plantenga, eng. J.W.E. Buijs and J.B. Lürsen, was as monument of modernism that corresponded with the new educational process. After the war, the principal, B. Th. Hev, was given the permission by Royal Decree to found a course in ‘Industrial Design’. Still offered today, the course was the first of its kind in the Netherlands.

In 1957, coinciding with the Academy’s 275th anniversary, the predicate Royal was awarded to the historic institution. In 1989 the Royal Academy of Art merged with the MTS for Photography and Photonics, and joined with the Royal Conservatoire (KC) in 1990 to become the College of Expressive Arts, Music and Dance, renamed the ‘University of the Arts The Hague’ in 2010.

In 2001 a partnership with Leiden University was started, which resulted in the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts (ACPA); this was the first formalised collaboration between a university and an arts institute in the Netherlands. ACPA offers the opportunity to follow a PhD programme resulting in a PhD for a combination of an artwork and a dissertation. The KC, KABK and Leiden University offer double degree programmes, carry out research programmes and develop new methods of study. Electives at the universities are open for all students.

The KABK’s focus on new technologies and new media has resulted in state-of-the-art workshops, studios and departments like ArtScience, Interactive/Media/Design and most recently, Non-Linear Narrative.

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