Frequently asked questions

This website provides information for the Leiden wall poems. These wall poems were realized since 1992 by the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation. The website was developed by Het Taalmuseum in collaboration with the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation. Here you can read more about the people behind the initiative.

Visit the wall poems

▾ Do I have to buy a ticket for the Leiden wall poems?

All wall poems are located in public spaces and are therefore free of charge. The wall poem in Dutch Sign Language is also accessible for free, but can only be viewed during visiting hours at Hortus Botanicus Leiden. Unfortunately, Hebban Olla Vogala is not accessible for the public. 

▾ Are there routes along the Leiden wall poems?

This website provides multiple walking and cycling routes. You can use the website to guide you along.

▾ Are there guided tours along the Leiden wall poems?

On this website we offer four free routes along the wall poems. Jacowies Surie provides custom guided tours in a part of Leiden of your choosing. More information on guided tours can be found on her website, through this link (.pdf), or at info@jscommunicatie.nl.

▾ Can I visit the Leiden wall poems with my students?

The wall poems are generally very accessible, and the wall poem in the Dutch Sign Language can also be visited, free of charge. For guided tours, you can contact Jacowies Surie at info@jscommunicatie.nl. In addition, Het Taalmuseum, the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation and ICLON are working on educational materials on the Leiden wall poems. These will be made available soon on this website.

▾ TEGEN-BEELD used to organize open-air poetry nights. Will they be held again?

There are no new open-air poetry nights coming up in the foreseeable future. Would you like to receive updates on all our other events? Subscribe to our digital newsletter at info@muurgedichten.nl and you’ll be the first to know!

The organization behind the Leiden wall poems

▾ Who are the initiators of the Leiden wall poems?

The first poem, Mijn Verzen (For my poems), was realized in 1992 by several poetry lovers from Leiden. They joined forces that same year and became known as the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation. They started the project 'Poetry on walls': 101 poems on the Leiden city walls. The foundation is still responsible for the Leiden wall poems.

▾ What does the name TEGEN-BEELD mean, and where does it come from?

The name TEGEN-BEELD represents an ‘image’ (beeld) that is painted on, or in this case ‘against’ (tegen) the wall. It also says something about the members of the foundation and their way of working: defiant (tegendraads). To go against the conventional routine, to show a different image. The initiators, Jan Willem Bruins and Ben Walenkamp, want to counterbalance the cultural impoverishment in the Netherlands and aim to acquaint the people with literature and poetry from different cultures.

▾ How do I get in touch with the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation?

You can contact the foundation or particular members at email:

▾ Who is responsible for this website?

The website www.muurgedichten.nl is created and designed by Taalmuseum in collaboration with the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation. Taalmuseum dedicates itself to promoting knowledge of and enthusiasm for language. More information about the museum can be found at Taalmuseum.nl

▾ Is the Leiden municipality involved in the wall poem project?

The Leiden wall poems are realized by the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation, an independent organization. The municipality of Leiden occasionally contributes to the realization and the restoration of the wall poems.

Realization new / restoring current wall poems

▾ Are new wall poems still being added?

The TEGEN-BEELD Foundation started their ambitious project of realizing 100 wall poems in 1992. Partly due to the city’s enthusiasm they have long since surpassed this number. The foundation is still interested in realizing more wall poems in Leiden.

▾ I want to realize a wall poem in Leiden, what should I do?

To suggest a poem, poet, language or a placement location, please contact the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation at info@muurgedichten.nl. All entries are taken seriously but realization cannot be guaranteed. Poems eligible for consideration are almost always those written by poets with an extensive and globally-recognized oeuvre, or poems written in a language that is currently not (sufficiently) represented in Leiden.

▾ Can any walls be considered?

To be part of the official Leiden wall poems, both the poem and the wall have to be visible from the streets (public space).

▾ Who selects the poems?

The final decision on a poem or poet will be made by members of the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation. This is often done in consultation with authorities on the language, movement or poet. The local residents are not involved.

▾ What does it cost to realize a wall poem?

It highly depends on the location and the design. For example, what are the dimensions and will scaffolding be required? Unfortunately, we cannot provide any estimations here.

▾ I do not live in Leiden but I do want to realize a wall poem. Where do I begin?

Every city has their own procedures and policies. When the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation first started applying the wall poems, they did so without permission or financial support. This worked out well in Leiden. There is no set procedure, we therefore advise you to make a concrete plan and simply execute it.

▾ How do I acquire rights of use of a poem and thus allowing me to paint it on a wall?

Copyright expires 70 years after the author’s passing, allowing everyone to freely access/publish the poem. If this is not the case, is it advisable to contact either the poet/writer or next of kin via the publisher to ask for permission.

▾ What techniques are employed when applying a wall poem?

More information about the painting of a wall poem can be found in the interview with Jan Willem Bruins.

Filmclip: Leendert Beekman, Michiel Keller

▾ I have spotted a significant mistake in one of the wall poems. Who must I inform about this?

The wall poems are handcrafted: one or two errors may have crept in. On this website, these errors are mentioned in the lemma of the poem in question. If you have spotted another mistake in one of the wall poems, which is not yet mentioned on this website, please inform us at info@muurgedichten.nl.

▾ The poem on our house has worn off/been damaged/been painted over. How can I restore it?

Please contact info@muurgedichten.nl for further consultation.

▾ Are wall poems being repainted or restored?

Over the years, several wall poems have been repainted. The TEGEN-BEELD Foundation aspires to restore or repaint all the poems.

About the website

▾ What kind of information can be found on this website?

Every wall poem has its own lemma on the website. On this page, you can listen to it being recited in its original language and read additional information about the poem and poet. Some lemmas also offer personal anecdotes and city stories. In addition, the website offers walking and cycling routes. We also strive to offer educational materials, which will be made available on this website in the foreseeable future.

▾ Who participated in building this website?

The website is built by Peter Boorsma and designed by Robin Stam, commissioned by Taalmuseum. The project was managed by Tessa Askamp. The content was supplied by a large number of volunteers. The translations into English are by students of the MA Translation in Theory and Practice at Leiden University, except for (some of) the literary translations. Contributors for each lemma are mentioned under the header ‘Learn more.’

▾ Am I allowed to use the photos I come across on the muurgedichten.nl website?

This website is covered by a Creative Commons BY-NC license. This means that all information on this website may be used by third parties for non-commercial purposes, as long as appropriate referencing is included. Unfortunately, this licence does not cover the poems and their translations, the rights of which are held by their respective authors. We have tried to find all rightful owners or proprietors of the materials used on this website. We would like to ask anyone who feels like their work has been used without permission to please contact us at muurgedichten@taalmuseum.nl.

▾ I have spotted a mistake on the website. Who must I inform about this?

This website is managed by Het Taalmuseum. If you have any comments, please inform us at muurgedichten@taalmuseum.nl.

▾ Is it possible to contribute to this website?

This website is still in development. Not all poems have been researched and we are always looking for more personal stories about the wall poems. Please contact muurgedichten@taalmuseum.nl for the possibilities.

The Leiden wall poems

▾ How many wall poems can be found in Leiden?

The TEGEN-BEELD Foundation has realized 114 wall poems, occasionally with partners. Unfortunately some wall poems have been worn away by the weather or been demolished. There are a dozen or so wall poems that have not been realized by the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation.

▾ Are all Leiden wall poems present on the website?

We strive to provide you with a complete overview of the Leiden wall poems. Is there a poem you think is missing, let us know at info@muurgedichten.nl.

▾ Why aren’t there translations next to the wall poems?

All poems are painted on the wall in their original language. The initial idea was to install a plaque by every wall poem providing the Dutch and English translations. However, most of these plaques have disappeared or have become illegible. Since 2018, the translations can be found on this website.

▾ Are the booklets with the wall poems still for sale?

There are booklets containing information about the first 101 wall poems, called Dicht op de Muur (Poem on the Wall, or Close to the Wall) parts 1 and 2. These can be found in most bookshops in Leiden. The TEGEN-BEELD Foundation plans to create a complete reference work of the Leiden wall poems by 2020. Until then, we would like to refer you to this website.

▾ What is the connection between the Leiden wall poems and the Leiden wall formulas?

The wall poems have been realized by the TEGEN-BEELD Foundation, since 1992. In 2015 the physicists Sense Jan van der Molen en Ivo van Vulpen approached the foundation to realize wall formulas on the Leiden walls. So far (june 2018), six formulas have been painted on the Leiden city walls. The wall formulas can be found at muurformules.nl.