Melkweg stands for pop culture in the most broad of senses. Each year, hundreds of concerts, club nights, films and music films, theatre performances, expositions and multidisciplinary events together attract more than 400,000 visitors.
The venue is located in the only surviving factory building on the Amsterdam canal ring, a former sugar and, later, milk factory. This historical building houses two concert halls, a cinema, a theatre, and an exposition space, which each can be used separately or combined together.
In the Melkweg, established names can be seen alongside new talent and emerging styles get the chance to reach a broader audience. The diversity of its programming and visitors, together with its different spaces and special location, have for years made the Melkweg a unique place.
It all started in 1970, when a cultural youth project took residence in a vacant milk factory for the summer. Amsterdam at that time was considered a “cosmic centre” of the world. From all corners of the earth young people came together in this new cultural hub that from the start combined different art disciplines.
Melkweg has permanently been open as a cultural centre since 1973, seeing many changes over the last 40 years: the building was adapted to further suit its new function, a large concert hall was added, and programming became more important and professional.
Melkweg has always been a kind of biotope of a variety of subcultures: from hippies to punk, from grunge to hip hop. Its rich history has made Melkweg known across the globe as a venue where new artists and styles can take the stage and where world famous names performed before making their big breakthrough.
No other music venue offers such a diverse programming as Melkweg. In both concert halls – The Max and Oude Zaal – big international names perform alongside new home-grown talent. The club nights also represent a wide variety of music styles and audiences, bridging the gap between underground and the general public.
Depth is provided by the cinema programme, with its many music films, and by the expositions, which evoke people to think but can also surprise. Both disciplines have their own space: the Cinema on the top floor and the Gallery on the Marnixstraat, which is connected to the Melkweg Café. The Theatre serves as a platform for young makers to develop and create an own audience. Being able to interconnect all the different spaces makes the Melkweg highly suitable for festivals and larger events, often having a social character.
Melkweg also programmes concerts and other events in the Rabozaal, the modern multi-functional venue shared by Stadsshouwburg and Toneelgroep Amsterdam, and in the Sugar Factory across the street.