Classic museums in your must-visit Amsterdam list
Indeed, entertainment, nightlife and a taste of forbidden pleasures are the things that many travelers come to Amsterdam for. But if you prefer education to momentary pleasures, there are so many places for you to visit, in fact! Make a trip into the historic and cultural past of the Netherlands and Amsterdam at the city’s most famous art museums. Or get acquainted with modern artistic genres at some of the largest photography, film and architecture centers. And don’t forget your I Amsterdam card – the gateway to easy museum visiting. See the list of the most popular museums in Amsterdam below.
9 must-visit Amsterdam museums
The Rijksmuseum. Museumstraat 1
We advise to prepare for your acquaintance with the most visited museum in the Netherlands, The Rijksmuseum, long in advance. The State Museum is dedicated to everything the Dutch are so proud of, so don’t be surprised if you’ll have to queue to get there. Located on the Museum Square close to its sister museums, the Stedelijk Museum and the Van Gogh Museum, it has a massive collection of artistic and historic items. This includes some of the most important masterpieces in the Netherlands: Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” and paintings by van Dyck and Vermeer are among those. What else can you see there? Well, the museum boasts a collection of more than 2 thousand paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, a small Asian collection displayed in the Asian pavilion, and several thousand more items that throw the light on the history, arts and crafts of the Netherlands from 1200 to 2000. The main museum building went through massive renovation that took 10 years (from 2003 till 2013) and was solemnly opened by Queen Beatrix just last year.
Hotels near the Museumplein:
The Van Gogh Museum. Paulus Potterstraat 7
If your main interest is the distinguished Dutch genius, Vincent Van Gogh - head straight to the 2nd most visited museum in the Netherlands that is entirely dedicated to Van Gogh and his contemporaries. The artist’s works are found in museums around the world, including Musee d’Orsay, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Hermitage in St.-Petersburg. But the collection at the Van Gogh Museum is the largest. There are around 400 drawings, 200 paintings and 700 letters to look at, including the famous “Sunflowers”. Plus some Impressionist and Post-impressionist masterpieces by Rodin, Gauguin, Monet, Manet and others. Two modern museum buildings, one by Gerrit Rietveld and another by Kisho Kurokawa, are also curious to observe from the outside. By the way, the museum is also associated with a scandalous robbery story: in 2002 two of its artworks ( “Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen” and “View of the Sea at Scheveningen”) were stolen and never found. This crime was listed in the Top Ten Art Crimes list by the FBI Art Crime Team.
The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Museumplein 10
The previous two are classically-oriented museums, but this one is totally dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The classics of modern art, of course. The Stedelijk Museum, translated as “the Municipal Museum”, boasts as many as 90 thousand art objects from the 19th – 21st century, including paintings, sculptures, graphics, photography and much more. Works by Vincent van Gogh, Kandinsky, Chagall, Matisse, Warhol, Pollock and other prominent artists are all found at the museum. Like the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk has also gone through massive reconstruction just recently. The work lasted 3 years, from 2009 until 2012, and included major enlargement and modernization. The building facade corresponds with its collection character and is innovative and futuristic-looking. Its designers are Benthem Crouwel Architects.
The Rembrandt House Museum. Jodenbreestraat 4
To get a better understanding of what’s going on in a genius’ head, visit the place he lived in. And one of the main geniuses of the Netherlands, Rembrandt, lived right here, on Jodenbreestraat pretty close to the Town Hall. This house was the artist’s place of residence for 20 years, from 1939 until 1659, when he went bankrupt and had to sell all his belongings at an auction. The building standing adjacent to the house also serves as a museum. It exhibits some of Rembrandt’s works, etchings, plus the items that come from around the world.
Hotels near the Rembrandt House:
The Anne Frank House. Prinsengracht 263-265
It’s hard to believe that this small space is the third most-visited museum in Amsterdam. But it was here, in the Secret Annex of the old canal house steps from the Westerkerk, that the 15-year old Anne Frank and her family were hiding from Nazi persecution. The family lived here from July 1942 until August 1944, when they were betrayed and sent to a concentration camp. The only person that survived the camp was Otto Frank, Anne’s father. He published Anne’s diary in 1947.
Huge queues gather at the house every day; more than a million visitors every year. The place would have been trodden down if not for the reconstruction, during which there was a superstructure added to the complex. So now the museum itself is found within a new building of concrete and glass. The original diary is exhibited right here.
Hotels near the Anne Frank House:
Science Center NEMO. Oosterdok 2
Whatever the Dutch do, they do it with innovation and practicism in mind. And the NEMO science center is a proof. If you’re coming to Amsterdam with your family, a visit to the NEMO will be a perfect alternative to boring tours and exhibitions. The largest science center in the country occupies five floors of a 1997 building, each dedicated to some specific theme. But what’s most important to you and your kids, many exhibitions are interactive, encouraging you to make new discoveries and experiments and see how things work. Movies, displays, a laboratory to carry out experiments (like the vitamin C testing is various substances), memory tests… All these guarantee that each member of your family will leave excited are ready for their own discoveries. There is also a kids’ playground and a cafeteria on-site.
Hotels near the NEMO:
EYE Filmmuseum. Ijpromenade 1
Art is not only about painting. There are different artistic genres that are often overlooked. And the Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, located within the EYE Film Institute, helps get rid of the injustice. Every movie fan must head to this impressive futuristic-looking building and discover the history of cinematography from the earliest times to our days. The Institute was originally aimed to preserve cinematographic heritage for the future generations. Much work has been done for that, and nowadays it boasts a collection of around 46 thousand films, plus 450 thousand photographs and 35 thousand posters. Visitors can observe several curious exhibitions and watch classical and innovative films scored in the museum’s own cinema till late at night. Those with a special interest in the field are also welcomed to learn more about the experimental and other genres at special themed evenings.
Hotels near the EYE Filmmuseum:
- Moevenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Center 4*
Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. Keizersgracht 609
For some inspiration or a little more knowledge about the art of photography, go to the FOAM photography museum. And you don’t even have to go far from the atmospheric historic Amsterdam centre, as the museum is located right by the Keizersgracht canal. Opened in 2001, the museum does not only exhibit works by the famous photographers. It also paves the way for the up-and-coming artists at its smaller exhibitions. The rotating exhibitions change approximately every three months and involve various photography genres, including art, fashion and documentary. Portraits and street photography are also well taken care of. True fans can purchase the museum’s own quarterly magazine, Foam Magazine.
Hotels near Foam:
- De L’Europe 5*
ARCAM. Amsterdam Centre for Architecture. Prins Hendrikkade 600
ARCAM is focused on things that surround us every day – buildings. But even everyday objects can be pieces of art, and the Amsterdam Centre for Architecture proves this. The centre’s building is an attraction of its own – compact, transparent, futuristic, innovative. But apart from that, ARCAM is ready to tell you everything it knows about Amsterdam architecture. Themed books, brochures, magazines and maps will keep any architecture fan captivated. Moreover, the centre holds approximately 5 exhibitions every year, each dedicated to the history of architecture, its present-day players, interesting projects and modern issues. It is also your departure point for an architecture-themed tour around the Amsterdam: the ARCAM staff will provide you with information about the most curious buildings in the city.
Hotels near ARCAM:
- Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy 3*
- Moevenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Center 4*