From Saturday 30 September, Kunsthal Rotterdam proudly presents the large-scale exhibition by one of today’s most prominent artists, the activist, and critic of authoritarian power systems Ai Weiwei.

In Search of Humanity will be his most comprehensive retrospective to date including paintings, cultural ready-mades, works made from LEGO bricks, sculptures, installations, photography and video works. The exhibition will present an impressive overview of Ai Weiwei’s over-four-decades-spanning career and feature key works from all his different creative periods.

An ode to the freedom of the individual

The must-see exhibition Ai Weiwei. In Search of Humanity offers an insight into the life of the world-famous Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei, such as his early childhood spent in exile with his father since the Anti-Rightist Movement, or his own detainment in 2011. His artworks show his quest for humanity and a better world. The artist believes we all have a responsibility to take action against threats to freedom of speech and violations of human rights – from the Chinese government’s intimidation techniques and the call for freedom, to warfare and the global refugee crisis.

Through his work, Ai Weiwei criticises the destruction of ancient cultures, the intimidation methods used by the Chinese government, and societies in which the individual has no freedom. As a sign of resistance he raises his middle finger to monuments that symbolise power around the world. Ai Weiwei deconstructs existing objects, rebuilds them, and subsequently gives them a new, multilayered significance as in Grapes (2011), a sculpture made from traditionally crafted wooden stools. In Search of Humanity is an ode to humanity and the freedom of the individual.

Artist Talk Ai Weiwei

Saturday 30 September 11:00 hrs

Artist Ai Weiwei will give an artist talk on Saturday, 30 September at 11:00 hrs discussing his work and political activism with Sahar Shirzad, a human rights and refugee issues specialist and founder of Refugee Millennials. Tickets will be available from 1 September via


On the occasion of the exhibition Ai Weiwei. In Search of Humanity a richly illustrated English catalogue of the same title will be released. This publication will pay ample attention to Ai Weiwei’s life and work, providing an impressive overview of significant works from all stages of the artist’s extensive career. Featuring essays by guest curator Dieter Buchhart, Albertina Modern curators Roger M. Buergel, Elsy Lahner and Melissa Lumbroso, as well as art historian John Tancock. This 336-page publication is available from 29 September for € 54,95 at the Kunsthal Shop or from 20 September via


Families and children can be creative every day in the KunsthalLAB. The themes of the assignments change and are related to the exhibitions. From September 30, the lab is dedicated to the exhibition Ai Weiwei. In Search of Humanity. A Look & Do tour is available for children from the age of 8, with which the exhibition is visited on the basis of questions and assignments. School groups can visit the exhibition by booking a guided educational tour via


Tuesday 3 October 

During the ‘Week tegen Eenzaamheid’ (the Week against Loneliness) on Tuesday 3 October Kunsthal Rotterdam is organizing another edition of ‘KunstKoppels’ (ArtCouples). During KunstKoppels visitors will meet someone in the Kunsthal who is completely new and unknown to them. Someone from another generation, or with a different background or lifestyle. After an introduction they will visit the exhibition Ai Weiwei. In Search of Humanity. KunstKoppels is organised in cooperation with Rotterdam Heroes, a youth project of Unie Van Vrijwilligers Rotterdam (UVV). The main language during this event is Dutch. Tickets are available via

Kunsthal launches Friday Night Live

From Friday 20 October

On Friday 20 October, the Kunsthal will be launching Friday Night LIVE, a monthly recurring, vibrant full-evening programme that offers a platform to different Rotterdam organisations. Each third Friday evening of the month, a different partner will be taking over the Kunsthal to present an exciting programme and start off the weekend with a bang. During Friday Night LIVE – made possible by a special project grant from VriendenLoterij – the Kunsthal will hand over the keys and offer a platform to a Rotterdam partner active in the field of film, spoken word, dance, music, fashion, and/or theatre. Since the Kunsthal has such a wide variety of partners, each edition will be unique: the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. The festive kick-off will take place on Friday 20 October with an edition that puts the spotlight on House of Knowledge. Tickets will be available from half of September via

NN Art Festival

This autumn, Nationale-Nederlanden, partner of Kunsthal Rotterdam, will be introducing the NN Art Festival. As art has been shown to benefit mental health, Nationale-Nederlanden wants to encourage everyone to visit museums. From 28 September up to and including Sunday 8 October 2023, Nationale-Nederlanden will be running a national campaign to promote the programmes of 22 museums and cultural institutions throughout the Netherlands with the aim of reaching out to even more art explorers. The campaign will include a special opening breakfast for the exhibition Ai Weiwei. In Search of Humanity, organised for a wide audience. From 13 September, more information will be available on


In Search of Humanity is realised in collaboration with Ai Weiwei Studio, Albertina Modern in Vienna and guest curator Dieter Buchhart.