Dezeen Magazine

Amsterdam council removes "I amsterdam" sign after it becomes selfie spot

The "I amsterdam" letters have been removed from outside the Rijksmuseum in the Dutch capital, after they were accused of promoting mass tourism.

One of the hottest selfie spots in Amsterdam, the popular red and white letters were taken down by city authorities on Monday 3 December, amid claims they are too individualistic.

By removing them, the local government hopes to reduce tourist numbers in the square.

Sign makes city "background in a marketing story"

The move came following a petition from city councillor Femke Roosma, a representative of left-wing party GroenLinks. Roosma claimed that, as well as causing overcrowding, the sign was giving out the wrong message about the city's values.

In a statement, reported by The Telegraph, Roosma said: "The message of 'I amsterdam' is that we are all individuals in the city. We want to show something different: diversity, tolerance, solidarity."

"This slogan reduces the city to a background in a marketing story," she added. "Amsterdammers want to regain their grip on the city."

First intended as symbol of inclusion

The letters were first installed in 2004 as a part of a city marketing campaign by communications agency KesselsKramer, which aimed to "celebrate Amsterdam's citizens in all their diversity".

The sign, a play on the phrase "I am Amsterdam", was originally intended as a symbol of inclusion.

"The people who live here, the people who work here, the people who study here and the people who visit here. The people of Amsterdam are Amsterdam," reads the campaign manifesto, published on the I Amsterdam website.

The sign provide so popular that a reported 6,000 selfies were taken in front of it every day. This led critics to suggest people were more interested in taking a photo outside the museum than appreciating the artworks inside.

Letters became "symbol for mass tourism"

Udo Kock, Amsterdam's alderman for finance, told the Telegraph he agrees with the decision: "I gladly want to remove them because these letters in Museum Square have become a symbol for mass tourism and the negative effects of it."

But the move hasn't gone done well on social media, where users are protesting under the hashtag #IAmsterdam and posting photos of their previous visits to the sign.

According to I Amsterdam, the letters are currently being stored for renovation, after which they will travel around the city.

A smaller set of the letters stands at Schiphol Airport, while another set is touring the city but will be located at Student Hotel Amsterdam West until 12 December.

"These letters were removed at the request of the City of Amsterdam because they were drawing too big of a crowd to an already limited space," said I Amsterdam.

"Before settling in Museumplein, the letters toured the country and now they are once again travelling Amsterdam and the surrounding region, putting lesser-known neighbourhoods, activities and attractions in the spotlight."