A good tradition, the OPEN DAYS of ARS ” PLACE for VISUAL ARTS”. This year, on 13 and 14 May 2017, open from 12.00 till 17.00. As always the students of ARS show their finest work in both the Gallery on the ground floor and in the classrooms in the rest of the building. 
Nudes, portraits, still lifes, fantasy and nature, both in plaster, clay, textiles and remains with the use of all kinds of paint and drawing materials and there is also graphic art to be seen. 
At the same time, with the close of the current season starts the registration for the following season: 2017-2018. Information about the courses of ARS may be found in two different ways. You are going to see with your own eyes on the open days what is possible, you can query students and/or ARS members and take a course guide. Or you click on the website www.arsaemula.nl/english, look at everything and perhaps subscribe via internet.

What is Ars Aemula Naturae (ARS)?

Founded in 1694, Ars Aemula Naturae (ARS) is an association of professional artists. The association currently has a membership of around a hundred members.  ARS promotes and teaches the visual arts in Leiden and the surrounding area: specifically drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, film and video, textile art, and graphic art.

Based in an 17th century listed building in the historic city centre of Leiden, the association organises exhibitions, lectures, and arts-related activities. Ars Aemula Naturae is best known as a celebrated training institute for the arts, with 35 courses per year and a yearly intake of around 400 students. ARS is committed to the visual arts.

The history of Ars Aemula Naturae

Enjoying a close and long-standing relationship with Leiden University, the association has been active as a drawing and painting academy since 1694. Initially known as Leiden Academy of Art, the association took the name Ars Aemula Naturae (“art, the rival of nature”) in 1799. Since 1859, ARS has been located in the same building, on the Pieterskerkgracht in Leiden.


ARS has focus on an intensive exhibition programme. The ARS gallery with its three exhibition rooms is a regional center for the presentation of contemporary art. With around 15 exhibitions produced every year, the artists of the association and others can show their latest work. In weekends the gallery is open to the public. Throughout the week students following our courses are stopping by on their way back from getting a coffee and are discussing the exhibition.


The association offers a wide range of courses in the visual arts for people of Leiden. There’s a yearly enrollment of around 400 students; amateurs and professionals, children and adults.

Please note, that all our teachers and most of the students are speaking English, so you can register for all our courses, even though they are being taught in Dutch. In the “cursusaanbod” (Course Offer) you can search for courses. Here you will find course descriptions, schedules and the opportunity for registration.

 For the full overview of ARS’s courses and registration, see here or ask for the course guide from the reception.