Watch our webinar! “Tricky sickness issues”

Art and law: Rules for the dialogue between art and nature

Publication date: 11 July 2016
Can you just install a work of art in a nature conservation area? Of course not, an integrated environmental permit is required for this. Who has to grant such a permit and what are the requirements such a permit has to comply with?


The project Into Nature art expedition was a great idea. A large number of artworks should be installed in the beautiful Drentsche Aa landscape. From 4 July to 18 September 2016, visitors will be able to discover together with artists “how man interacts with the environment”. One of the artworks to be exhibited was by Rainer Gross. “His monumental installations from wood enter into a dialogue with the environment”, says the website of the project. In this case the environment is Okkenveen, which is located in the middle of a protected Natura 2000 area. For the artwork, which consists of curved, blackened slats, two foundations needed to be placed in the river Drentsche Aa. The project management was well-prepared and applied for an environmental permit from the municipality of Tynaarlo for the installation of the artwork and the exemption from the land use plan. The municipality granted the required permit.

Was that it? No, because the conservation group Natuurplatform Drentsche Aa lodged an objection with the municipality and requested the North Netherlands District Court to suspend the permit so that the artwork could not be installed until the objection would be decided on. The request was granted by the District Court.

So what went wrong with the decision of the municipality?
(1) The municipality had not investigated the effects on the natural environment to be expected from the installation of the artwork. This concerned both the disturbance of the sensitive area caused by the installation and removal of the artwork, and the rising number of visitors to be expected.
(2) Before granting the permit, the municipality should have requested a statement of no objections from the Provincial Executive of Drenthe and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. This was required because it concerned a Natura 2000 area (authority of the Provincial Executive) with protected animals (authority of the Ministry), such as the bullhead, the loach and the crested newt.

Therefore, the Court decided on 7 July 2016 to suspend the decision until at least six weeks after the municipality will have re-decided on the permit. In practice, this means the artwork shall not be installed anymore as the Into Nature art expedition will end on 18 September.

Would you like to learn more about the legal aspects of art in public spaces? Or do you have any other questions about art and law? Please contact Russell Advocaten:

    Share on social media

    • Expats
    • Administrative law and the environment

    The Netherlands: Gateway to Europe

    3 May 2021

    The Netherlands likes to present itself as “the gateway to Europe.” And not without reason: excellent travel connections (Schiphol Amsterdam Airport and Rotterdam Seaport) and a highly educated population speaking several languages.

    read on
    • Art
    • Employment law and dismissal

    Russell Advocaten recommended by The Legal 500 2021

    20 April 2021

    Russell Advocaten has for the 17th consecutive year in a row been included in The Legal 500. We are pleased with the recognition for the quality of our legal services by experts and clients. Please read what they say about us:

    read on
    • Art

    New rules restitution policy also apply to old cases

    30 March 2021

    The Dutch restitution policy returns to its original principles and is rightly becoming more generous. Cases that have already been settled can also be resubmitted. What will change in the policy?

    read on
    • Art

    Proposals of Buma Committee not sufficient for the protection of Dutch cultural heritage

    3 March 2021

    The sale of a drawing by Rubens, owned by Princess Christina, at an auction in New York caused great indignation and a discussion about the policy for cultural heritage in the Netherlands. This resulted in two advice committees, the Pechtold Committee and the Buma Committee. The latter has issued an interim opinion, that, if adopted, could have serious consequences for art collectors and art dealers in the Netherlands.

    read on
    • Art

    Dutch restitution policy has gone too far in the protection of Netherlands art property

    8 December 2020

    Russell Advocaten noticed in its proceedings before the Dutch Restitutions Committee that the committee increasingly attached importance to the interest of the current owners. This is contrary to the Washington Principles. The committee appointed to evaluate Dutch restitution policy agrees with us in its “Striving for Justice” report.

    read on
    • Art
    • Litigation

    Dutch government can block restitution of Nazi-looted art by designating it a protected cultural object

    4 December 2020

    Even if the Restitutions Committee recommends to return looted art, it is not certain that the work of art will actually return to its rightful claimants. It could be that the work of art is irreplaceable and indispensable to Dutch cultural heritage and may not leave the Netherlands.

    read on
    • Art

    13 November 2020: VKCR-event on the protection of cultural goods and the Heritage Act

    13 November 2020

    At the online symposium of the Vereniging Kunst Cultuur Recht on the Heritage Act and the protection of cultural goods, Paul W.L. Russell, LL.M. threw a few stones into the pond. How useful are protective measures to keep cultural heritage in the Netherlands without making underlying purchase funds directly available? Is the designation procedure necessary?

    read on
    • Fashion and luxury
    • Administrative law and the environment

    Punitive Damages: well-known in the United States but unrecognized in the Netherlands

    24 June 2020

    High punitive damages are one of the aspects of U.S. law that attracts a lot of attention. In the Netherlands punitive damages will not be awarded. What are the consequences for Dutch companies that are active in the U.S.? And for American companies that file a claim in the Netherlands? Priscilla de Leede of Russell Advocaten and Kathleen Hugo of U.S. law firm Mateer Harbert explain.

    read on