In many European cities you are completely spoilt for choice when it comes to museums, and it can be really difficult to keep up with all the different exhibitions and which ones you should visit, especially if you’re very limited on time.
Museums in Amsterdam are no exception to the rule, and with over 50 museums to choose from you could spend weeks in the city and still not see them all. The Anne Frank Museum is of course was of the most popular choices, but we personally thought it was so good that it deserved a post in its own right.
Finding the right museum that really resonates with you is always going to be a personal choice, but here are our Top 5 museums in Amsterdam that we think you really shouldn’t miss, several of which will give you an insight into authentic Dutch culture.
If you are heading to Amsterdam, check out the I amsterdam City Card which gives you easy admission for most of the city’s museums, as well as other attractions.
The Rijksmuseum, which in English translates into ‘State Museum’, showcases art and history from Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a whole. It is one of the most important museums in the entire country for this reason, displaying objects from several hundred years ago right up to the present day, objects that shaped the history and culture of the Netherlands.
The main building of the Rijksmuseum has just reopened, after having undergone a €375 million renovation over the last 10 years. The directors of the museum decided that the building could use an update into the modern world, but the façade of the building still looks fairly classical and similar to when it was opened back in the late 19th century.
The Rijksmuseum displays over 8,000 objects at a time, but they are actually in possession of over 1 million, the oldest of which date back to the year 1200 and the newest are as recent as 2000. The majority of the paintings on display here come from the Dutch Golden Age, which roughly spanned the 17th century. Rembrandt is by far the most noted amongst the artists who have works on display here, and the Rijksmuseum is one of the best places in the world to see his pieces.
Admission fees: Children – free/Adults – €15
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is only a stone’s throw away from the Rijksmuseum, giving you ample opportunity to check out both in one day if you’d like to see two completely different styles of artistry whilst you’re in Amsterdam.
The museum was founded in 1973, and between Van Gogh’s death in 1890 and this point, his works were passed down through various family members and spouses before it finally reached the hands of the Vincent van Gogh Foundation in 1962.
The Van Gogh Museum has the biggest collection of Van Gogh pieces in the world, estimated at 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters by the man himself. In 2012 it was estimated that nearly 1.5 million people went to this museum, making it the most visited museum in the Netherlands and well up there on the list of most visited in the world. This is definitely the number one place to be if Van Gogh is an artist you admire and are passionate about. Furthermore, the museum also includes works by Van Gogh’s contemporaries, allowing you to see how his legacy has been passed down in the years after his death.
Admission fees: Children – free/Adults €15
If you’re in the mood for something a bit more current, the Stedelijk Museum is where the modern and contemporary art is displayed. It is yet another museum in the same area as the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum, making you really spoilt for choice during a museum day.
When I say modern I really mean that the works in this museums date back to the early 20th century, so think more in the region of the last 100 years instead of anything that might have been created within the last few years.
Founded back in 1874, the museum only started to collect art in 1909, but as it grew larger it was hailed as one of the best places in the world to find art and design objects, and many still believe that today. The curators collected items from all over the world, and the Stedelijk became one of the first museums in Western Europe to collect photography for its collections.
Pop Art also made its way to Stedelijk, with the like of Warhol and Lichtenstein gracing its walls. There is in fact a Lichtenstein collection currently being exhibited, so if Pop Art is your thing, make sure you don’t miss out on one of its pivotal players.
Admission fees: Children – €7.50/Adults – €15
If you’re in the mood for something a little more offbeat, the Tropenmuseum is an anthropological museum which showscases works from tropical cultures from around the globe. It was established in 1864 and is one of the largest museums in Amsterdam, with 8 permanent exhibitions and numerous temporary collections.
Geographical areas such as Southeast Asia, South Asia, Latin America, West Asia and North Africa are represented in the Tropenmuseum, making it the perfect museum for a globetrotter who loves anything multicultural. One of the permanent exhibitions ‘Travelling Tales’ shows ‘stories about love, cunning and courage’, travel stories that will capture even the most inexperienced of nomads.
The permanent collections are certainly reason enough to visit the Tropenmuseum, but the temporary exhibitions are also well worth catching if you are in town. A collection of Islamic Art is currently being displayed until the beginning of November 2013, one to definitely check out if you’re in the area.
Admission fees: Children – €8/Adults – €12
No this is not in fact the dullest museum ever created showcasing foam, the name is actually a shortened version of Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, and if you’re big into photography and in Amsterdam, do not miss out on this little treasure.
Set in a very chic, crisp and spacious building, Foam is extremely relaxing to walk around and definitely has that minimalist feel down to a tee. Founded in 2001, it’s a very new player to the Amsterdam museum scene, but admission numbers have been climbing with each year that passes.
The museum has four different exhibitions at any one time, and doesn’t really limit itself as to what kind of photography it displays, although the collections do sometimes verge on the overtly arty and abstract. There are no permanent exhibitions here, just rotating collections from photographers all over the world, showcasing fashion, art, and real life stories in photographs. So that means if you have been before, you can go again and get a whole new experience.
Foam museum also encourages and regularly displays up-and-coming talent in the photography scene, as well as publishes its own magazine, making it the authority on photography in Amsterdam. All of that plus the little café and library within the museum also make it a photography buffs complete dream and perfect day out.
Admission fees: Children – €4.50/Adults €8.50
We would like to thank I amsterdam and Movenpick Amsterdam for their wonderful assistance during our visit to the beautiful city of Amsterdam and XCom Global for keeping us connected via their MiFi device.
What was your favorite museum in Amsterdam?