The Van Abbemuseum: subtitling the new exhibition


About the client

VSI's Amsterdam office was delighted to be asked to assist in an exciting new project to coincide with the museum's 80th anniversary.

Whilst we are perhaps best known for our work for major broadcasters and online platforms, our worldwide teams also share a significant history in working on exhibitions for major clients from the arts and culture sector. Our subtitling, voice-over and translation clients include the New York Metropolitan Opera and The Science Museum, London. 

Another such client is the Van Abbemuseum. Located in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, it is one of Europe’s leading museums of contemporary art. Boasting an extensive collection of around 3,000 pieces by artists such as Chagall, Lissitzky and Picasso, the museum expertly showcases the fields of art and society in a bold, experimental manner.

The project


Dutch, Spanish and Catalan

VSI Amsterdam was approached to deliver a subtitling project for an innovative new exhibition at the Van Abbemuseum, ‘The 80s – Beginning of the Now’.

The exhibition explores the transformative decade from the perspective of six leading European countries, and comprises of a diverse mix of artwork, music, TV and graphic material. Highlighting the correlation between civil society and the state during the 1980s, the project aims to portray the significance that the cultural developments of the 1980s had for society today.

The majority of the exhibition required translation from English into Dutch, but VSI was also asked to subtitle some short Spanish films. With the material provided to VSI Amsterdam mere days before the Grand Opening, the turnaround was extremely tight, but our dedicated teams worked hard to guarantee all languages were faithfully captured to provide guests with a first-rate experience.

Our approach

Ensuring that the subtitles were at an appropriate reading speed, accurately timed and in accordance with the specified style was of paramount importance, with the specific terminology being adopted throughout to reflect the creative content and style of the projects. The initial half of the exhibition opened its doors to the public on the 16th of April, after VSI Amsterdam had provided almost three hours of subtitling to the project.

With the second half of the exhibition opening in mid-July, VSI Amsterdam were called upon again to contribute by preparing subtitles in less common language combinations, including Catalan into Dutch.

VSI utilised its extensive database of appropriately qualified translators, and planned the project with sufficient contingency to ensure the second batch of material was delivered in time for the opening.

All files were delivered to the client on schedule, and the team at Van Abbemuseum were extremely pleased with the result.


“The real strength of the VSI Group is their will and capacity to work alongside our unpredictable production process. They always manage to reach our deadlines, even when it’s with our last minute jobs.”

Annette Eliëns – Project Manager for Exhibitions at Van Abbemuseum