Gallery & contact

Working in the Tribal Art business, how come

Working in the world of tribal art is somewhat unusual. Selling daunting masks from the darkest Africa, dancing costumes from New Britain or shell money from Yap island is not an everyday job. So, how does somebody gets involved in the tribal art business? Well, at the age of twenty, as a young student in art history, I found a job at a gallery specialized in tribal art which was located in the middle of the antique area near the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

In the beginning my main intellectual contribution consisted of smiling nicely while serving coffee to clients and selling an occasional Wayang puppet. In the afternoon I made my daily run to the nearby liquor store opposite the gallery for Dutch Gin as discussing tribal art required a liquid boost. Those were great times! Every Saturday the gallery was visited by artists like Karel Appel, Corneille and Constant of the Cobra group together with a colourful mix of famous architects and real estate brokers. At the end of the day many went home with tribal treasures to add to their collections. During that period I learned a lot about tribal art and slowly the vision of a gallery of my own became more and more vivid. It was waiting for the right moment.

That moment came unexpected in 1998 when the wife of my former employer asked me to start a gallery in tribal art together with her. That occasion formed the birth of Tribal Design. After one year only she moved with her family to Brussels and suddenly I was running the gallery on my own. In 2012 I moved to the present-day spacious gallery at the Spiegelgracht with a marvelous view on the Rijksmuseum.

During those years I organized a lot of exciting exhibitions in the gallery, took part for seventeen years in a row in the Tribal Art Fair Amsterdam and two times in the Bourgogne Tribal Show in France. In between several fantastic trips brought me to New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland and many exotic islands in Micronesia where I was able to study tribal life in all its aspects.

Els Verheij

Photo left and right: On our trip in Baining Country, New Britain and Tami Islands, Papua New Guinea, 2004

Tribal Design is located along one of the most beautiful canals in Amsterdam, with a view on the Rijksmuseum and in the heart of the vibrant antiques quarter ‘Het Spiegelkwartier’.

In our beautifully renovated gallery you will find a large selection of masks, statues, body ornaments and objects of daily use from all over Oceania, Africa, Indonesia and other parts of the globe. Interesting objects are on offer catering the taste of the young starting collector as well as the seasoned tribal art lover.

Our carefully selected collection of authentic tribal art attracts collectors, museums and interior decorators worldwide.

Opening hours: Monday till Saturday from 11.00 to 17.30 hrs.

Drs Els M. M. Verheij 

Spiegelgracht 8
1017 JR Amsterdam
0031 20 421 66 95
0031 6 542 90 009

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