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A TEFAF Observer's Experience

23-03-2011 om 12:00 by Amanda Potter

045Every year since it’s inception, the TEFAF art and antique fair has brought to Maastricht intriguing art, a flurry of cultural activities, and a fresh wave of opulence as it is visited by a 10,000 collectors, dealers, and the curious. From March 18th to the 27th, the main event is the fair itself, but you can also visit the myriad of regular art galleries in Maastricht, catch the Antiquarian Book & Art Fair, or attend one of the many theatre events that are scheduled to coincide with TEFAF. Jazz Maastricht even presents 2 nights of shows for jazz fans (25th and the 26th of March).

With its 55 euro day ticket (110 euro for the full event) and the high value of the art on display, it is fair to say that the TEFAF is not for the average person. But if you have an interest in art and want to see items that otherwise are mostly kept in private collections, at least one visit to the TEFAF in your lifetime is well worth your time. Here are a few tips to make the most of your adventure:

1) Don’t go it alone. I attended TEFAF for the first time this year and went alone. Sadly, I found I tired of the event far too rapidly and ended up missing many interesting works of art. The TEFAF is a huge fair and deserves the time it takes to see the variety of items in all its sections. Plus purchasing day-tickets in pairs will save you money.

TEFAF 2011 reception 350

2) Treat it like a museum. The TEFAF fills the MECC space up beautifully and if you’ve ever been in the building for less prestigious events, you’ll be shocked by how different the space can look. Enjoy the rich atmosphere and admire the art and antiques, but refrain from touching.

3) Travel light. I spent 3 hours in TEFAF last Saturday and after flipping through my catalog, I didn’t see half the artwork on display. You’ll be walking around a lot, so sturdy shoes and light handbags are a must. The show has constant security concerns too, so don’t bring your camera or anything else they might consider suspicious.

4) Eat inside. You could find cheaper food outside the TEFAF (at a distance or in the hospital), but if you’ve already bought a ticket you may as well stay inside and get the full experience. Beside, the food is actually quite good. I had a small quiche for lunch during my visit, and I also saw dim sum, pastas, and a sushi bar.

5) Ask questions, but don’t be a pest. Each gallery has a booth and, appropriately, attendants working it who have a lot of knowledge. If you’re really curious about something ask. But keep in mind these people are also there to sell the artwork you are perusing. If you’re definitely not buying, don’t take up too much of their time.

TEFAF 2011 flowers 350

6) Enjoy yourself. The TEFAF was my first art fair of this caliber and I don’t have many other experiences to compare it too, but it you’re not enjoying yourself, something is wrong. For art-lovers, the TEFAF is a not-to-be-missed activity in Maastricht (at least once). Be sure to make the most of it.

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Amanda Potter moved to Maastricht from Boston, Massachusetts in April, 2009 with her husband Dan for his research position at the University of Maastricht. Between exploring their adopted country and learning about a new culture, Amanda blogs about her experience and the city at Amanda works as a freelance writer and web designer at and webmaster for the comic She has two globetrotting cats that keep her company in their second floor Maastricht flat.
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