The Rijksakademie was established in 1870 by King William III. For the first one hundred years it served as a classical academy and taught artists such as August Allebé, Hendrik Berlage, Piet Mondriaan, Constant and Karel Appel. In the 1980s the Rijksakademie changed its course; classrooms were closed down and teaching programmes abandoned in favour of individual studios and critical dialogue with advisors. Since the 1990s the perspective grew increasingly global by inviting artists from Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. This shift in direction has led to our current two-year residency structure, which is distinguished by its international scope and diversity of artistic positions.

In 1992 the residency moved from Stadhouderskade 86 to the Kavallerie-Kazerne (cavalry barracks) on the Sarphatistraat. The monument, rebuilt by architect Koen van Velsen, enabled the opportunity to expand technical facilities, and therefore stimulate a wider range of practices. Workshops specialised in paint, printing, ceramics, mould making, metal, electronics, wood and (digital) media such as photography, video, film and sound have prominent places in the former stables ever since. The building also houses our public library and an extensive (historical) art collection.