When it comes to artwork, Amsterdam does not run short on masterpieces. As the Netherlands’ capital city, it has a wealth of museums and galleries featuring the works of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Mondrian, among many other famed and talented artists.
While it is a haven for art lovers, Amsterdam is also home to a number of historical, scientific, and lifestyle museums that draw in millions of tourists each year.
Which museums and galleries in Amsterdam top the list? Here’s a sneak peek at the most popular ones.
No other art museum features as many Dutch masters as the recently renovated Rijksmuseum. If you’re a big Rembrandt fan, this is where you can find his most renowned portraits, including “The Night Watch.”
Mesmerizing pieces from Frans Hals, Ferdinand Bol, Jan Steen, and Johannes Vermeer are on display as well. The Rijksmuseum has cultural and historical collections, from delftware (think a Flower Pyramid filled with tulips) to intricate dolls’ houses from the 17th century.
Van Gogh Museum
This museum takes you through the life and career of the great Vincent van Gogh. Here you get to see Van Gogh’s many featured paintings and drawings, including “The Potato Eaters,” “Sunflowers,” and “Wheatfield with Cows,” plus letters that help shed light on his story.
The museum has an added bonus for art lovers as well: prized pieces from Van Gogh’s contemporaries—fellow artists who inspired his work, such as Bernard, Gauguin, Monet, and Toulouse-Lautrec—grace the museum too.
The Stedelijk Museum is as modern and stylish as its contemporary collection of paintings, graphics, photographs, sculptures, and video artifacts (about 90,000 in all!).
If you want a preview of emerging art movements, this is definitely the go-to place in Amsterdam. In fact, the museum was among the first to showcase pieces from De Stijl and CoBrA. It also hosts creations by Kandinsky, Malevich, and Mondrian.
Anne Frank House
A tour of the Anne Frank House is an insightful and moving experience. It lets you step into the secret annex—attic rooms reached through a door disguised as a bookcase—where Anne Frank and her family hid for two years.
The annex is dark and bare, but still displayed on its walls are the magazine pictures that Anne put up. You’ll also see a reconstruction of Anne’s bedroom and her actual diary, displayed in a glass case. Nearly a million people visit this canal house-turned-museum every year.
Hermitage Amsterdam houses treasures and art from the Hermitage Palace in St. Petersburg in Russia. Its exhibition changes at least twice each year, so there’s always something new to see.
Best of all, whatever the collection, you can always expect exquisite and well-curated pieces such as works by Picasso and Matisse. Don’t neglect to check out the long refectory and the Governesses’ Room, too. You’ll be surprised at how large the pots in the 18th-century cellar kitchen are (hint: those who stirred them needed to climb steps).
Verzetsmuseum (Museum of the Resistance)
What was life like in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation? What’s the story behind the underground resistance movement?
If you have questions like these, the Verzetsmuseum gives you a glimpse of life in that period. From old film footage to forged documents and homemade radios, the displays in this little museum are both fascinating and enlightening. Domestic interiors were also recreated in a smaller scale for your children to enjoy. Another plus: The labels are also in English.
Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime Museum)
Board the National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) for a journey through 500 years of Dutch maritime history. The museum is housed in a former Admiralty Arsenal that stocked and supplied vessels until the 1970s. A number of the pieces originally stored there are now on display.
Besides relics, the collections feature ship models and instruments, nautical paintings, and old maps and globes. There’s also a special exhibit on whales.
If you’re visiting with kids, don’t forget to catch the “Sal & Lori and Circus at Sea” performance. They would love it!
Science Center NEMO
What appears as a large green-copper ship hull from the outside is actually the Science Center NEMO, a five-floor children’s museum packed with interactive exhibits. Your little one can try out bizarre science experiments, draw using a laser and watch themselves in “antigravity” trick mirrors.
There’s a section dedicated to music and video production, too, and for stunning panoramic views, climb to the center’s roof terrace.
Indeed, with its exquisite collections and fun exhibits, it’s no wonder museums and galleries are one of the biggest crowd-drawers in Amsterdam. The city offers the best of cultural tours, and it is something that all visitors to Amsterdam should take advantage when they are there.
Photo Credit: Holland