Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Keri Stooksbury
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Amsterdam may be a small city, but it’s one of the most unique in Europe. From its long history to its landscape full of canals, there’s something to see around every corner in this part of the Netherlands. One of the best ways to get to know the city is by visiting its museums. Whether you’re a history, science, or art lover, there’s an Amsterdam gallery or exhibit to suit your interests.
The Anne Frank House is the canal house where Anne Frank, her family, and 4 others hid during World War II. It’s also here where the book “A Diary of a Young Girl” was written.
The museum’s exhibits are primarily made up of recreated spaces to help visitors understand the conditions Anne and her family lived in during the 2 years they were confined to the home. These include many of the writer’s personal effects and other items from the period.
The museum also has multiple displays that house other artifacts about Amsterdam’s World War II history and items showcasing how Anne Frank’s diary impacted cultures worldwide. In fact, one of the most prestigious items in the museum is Shelley Winters’ Academy Award from the 1959 film adaptation of Frank’s diary.
Due to the museum’s nature, it’s recommended for children 10 and over. Admission is €1 (~$1) for children under 10, €10 (~$11) for children 10 to 17, and €16 (~$17) for adults. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Westermarkt.
BODY WORLDS Amsterdam, also known as The Happiness Project Amsterdam, is an interesting take on what could otherwise have been a run-of-the-mill science and health museum. The main aim of the facility is to show how happiness and health are linked and how people make daily choices that affect these areas of their lives.
With 200 different sets on display, the museum can educate people of all ages about the human body in a fun and immersive way. Initially, the museum was conceptualized by a medical doctor as a touring exhibit before finding its permanent home in Amsterdam.
Everyone at BODY WORLDS can get a body scan while in the museum, which can help visitors get to know their bodies better. The scan can give visitors a basic idea of how healthy they are and provides ways to live healthier and, as a result, happier lives.
Admission is free for children under 6, €13.50 (~$15) for children 6 to 17, and €22.50 (~$23) for adults. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Dam/De Bijenkorf.
The Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, often shortened to FOAM, is dedicated to the artistic mediums of video and photography. At any given time, 4 different galleries are on display in the museum, often showcasing vastly different topics. Though the museum often presents work by famous or established photographers, the facility also aims to help young artists make a name for themselves.
It often hosts galleries for aspiring photographers, though these are usually on display for a shorter time to maximize the number of photographers showcased. Though the museum frequently changes its exhibition spaces, it still amassed a collection of pieces from over 200 photographers worldwide.
Some of the most beloved works of art housed at FOAM are “Lightning Storm Flare” by Guillaume Simoneau, “Codex” by Viviane Sassen, and “Sangoma” by Lisandro Suriel. The museum also showcases works that mix photography with other mediums to encourage innovation in art.
Admission is free for children under 13, €11 (~$12) for visitors with cultural youth passes, €12 (~$13) for students, and €15 (~$16) for adults. The museum is open Saturday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Rembrandtplein.
Often referred to as the H’ART Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam focuses on a wide variety of art throughout history. Every 6 months, the museum changes its temporary exhibitions, which have covered topics from Alexander the Great to Matisse’s artwork. In these exhibits, art of all kinds is displayed, regardless of medium.
Originally conceived with the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the museum has embraced its individual identity in recent years after cutting ties with its former partner. The museum’s conception inspired one of the structure’s main permanent exhibits. This wing closely examines the relationship Russia and the Netherlands have had throughout history.
The other permanent exhibition space in the museum educates visitors about the history of the structure, the Amstelhof building, and its location on the banks of one of the city’s rivers. The museum also hosts public events during the year, such as concerts and dinners.
Admission is free for members and children under 11, €15 (~$15) for students and youths aged 12 to 17, and €22.50 (~$23) for adults. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Waterlooplein.
The Moco Museum is a modern and contemporary art organization with facilities in Barcelona and Amsterdams. The museum was conceived as a way to get young people interested in art by showing that it’s accessible and interesting to people of all ages.
Since the museum focuses primarily on contemporary artists and modern styles, it has no permanent collection archived or on display. Instead, the museum frequently rotates its gallery to spotlight new and innovative creators. This method of operating ensures that the Moco can keep up-to-date with changes in the art world and offer new visit experiences to repeat guests.
Occasionally, the museum’s exhibits honor the lifework of artists, particularly those in the modern style. For example, Roy Lichtenstein was the subject of an 18-month exhibition. The structure has also hosted retrospective galleries that look at the evolution of artistic styles.
Admission is free for children under 7, €18.95 (~$20) for children 7 to 17 and students, and €21.95 (~$23) for adults. Certain cards and passes can also offer discounts. The museum is open Friday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Leidseplein.
Amsterdam’s canals are some of its most recognizable features. The Museum of the Canals (Grachtenmuseum Amsterdam) helps visitors learn about the history and development of these waterways in an interactive way.
Using photos, videos, documents, to-scale models of the city, and other artifacts, the public can understand how the canals became such an important part of Amsterdam’s culture. The exhibits showcase over 400 years of history but don’t just focus on how the canals developed. They also showcase how the city’s culture and society changed over time.
Since the museum is located in a canal home built in the 1600s, many rooms have been kept in near-pristine condition. This allows visitors to admire the ornate wall and ceiling paintings that adorn the home. In addition to the permanently featured exhibits, the facility also houses temporary galleries that delve into other topics regarding the city and rotate periodically throughout the year.
Admission is free for children under 4, €9.50 (~$10) for children 4 to 12, and €16.50 (~$17) for adults. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Amsterdam Centraal.
The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) in Amsterdam is one of the most-visited museum facilities in the country. Though the Netherlands is a small nation, it’s had a long and thriving history when it comes to sailing and trading. It’s this history that’s showcased at the museum.
Through artifacts, including maps, sailing equipment, and ledgers, the facility can create a thorough timeline of Dutch maritime history. Notably, the museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of maritime artifacts. It also houses rare items, like maps created by the famed cartographer Willem Blaeu.
It also possesses the only surviving first-edition copy of “De Moluccis Insulis,” which narrates Magellan’s endeavor to sail around the world. Due to the size of the museum’s collection, only a fraction of its pieces are on display to the public, but even archived pieces can be viewed online. Special fellowships also allow access to artifacts for research purposes.
Admission is free for members and children under 4, €8.50 (~$9) for students and youths 4 to 17, and €17.50 (~$18) for adults. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Wittenburgergracht.
“When you visit The National Maritime Museum, you will experience extraordinary objects and fascinating stories. Even the museum building is one big artwork: a former naval warehouse, more than 400 years old. Did you know that the stunning roof is a reference to sea-charts and compass-lines, and has the same weight as 33 elephants?”Teus Hagen, marketing and communications, The National Maritime Museum
Initially conceived in 1923, the NEMO Science Museum has grown to comprise 5 floors full of interactive exhibits to help people of all ages foster an interest in the sciences. The museum is the largest of its kind in the country and is also one of the most popular facilities in the Netherlands.
Admission is free for children under 4, certain city card holders, and companions of visitors with disabilities, €8.75 (~$9) for students, and €17.50 (~$18) for general admission. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Kattenburgerstraat.
During the 17th century, Amsterdam went through a religious revolution as the Dutch Reformed Church became the nationally recognized religion. At this time, the country was still home to numerous people who followed other religions, like Catholicism, which led to the creation of clandestine churches.
The Our Lord in the Attic Museum (Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder) represents one such church that was built in the canal home of a wealthy Amsterdam family. First opened to the public in 1888, the museum is the second oldest in the city. Currently, the facility comprises 8 rooms, including the built-in church.
This organization allows visitors to thoroughly examine the day-to-day life of an average wealthy Dutch family through furnishings and decor pieces. In addition to the authentically furnished areas of the museum, the facility also has more traditional exhibit spaces. These galleries showcase religious devotional artifacts, including medals, sculptures, and manuscripts.
Admission is €7.50 (~$8) for children 5 to 17, €10.95 (~$12) for students, and €16.50 (~$17) for adults. The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Central Station.
First opened in 1798, the Rijksmuseum is a national museum dedicated to Dutch culture and history. It’s also the oldest museum in the city, even though it wasn’t moved to Amsterdam until 1808. The museum’s collection has grown significantly over 200 years and now consists of over 1 million items ranging from art to day-to-day personal items.
While there are some outliers, the vast majority of the pieces housed in the museum can be traced back to between 1200 and 2000. As a result, nearly a millennium of history is thoroughly showcased through the structure’s exhibition spaces.
One of the most notable sections of the museum is its wing dedicated to the Dutch Golden Age of art. Some highlighted items in the museum’s permanent collection are “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt, “The Milkmaid” by Vermeer, and “Portrait of a Young Couple” by Hals.
Admission is free for members and children 18 and under and €22.50 (~$23) for adults. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Leidseplein.
The Stedelijk is one of the city’s most prestigious centers for contemporary and modern art. Though the gallery displays current artists, its pride and joy is its collection of pieces from renowned artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. Some of the artists represented in the facility are Vincent van Gogh, Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol.
Altogether, the museum has over 90,000 works of art in its possession, encompassing various mediums, from paintings to videos. Some of the highlighted pieces in the museum are Malevich’s “The Woodcutter,” Van Doesburg’s “Composition XIII,” and Van Gogh’s “La Berceuse.”
The gallery regularly hosts temporary exhibits throughout the year to spotlight established and up-and-coming artists. The facility also hosts educational events to encourage aspiring creators. Though the Stedelijk collection is too large to be displayed all at once, the museum has begun creating a digital archive to be viewed online.
Admission is free for children under 19, members, and certain city pass holders, €10 (~$11) for students, and €22.50 (~$23) for adults. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Concertgebouw.
Since opening in 1973, the Van Gogh Museum has been home to the world’s most extensive collection of Van Gogh artwork. It’s also the country’s most popular museum and one of the most famous in the world.
Many of the pieces in the collection were the unsold paintings and drawings left after Van Gogh’s death. In total, the facility houses 400 drawings, 700 letters, and 200 paintings. Some of the most beloved pieces in this impressive collection are “Almond Blossoms,” “The Potato Eaters,” and “Sunflowers.”
Though the museum is almost entirely focused on the work of Van Gogh, the gallery also showcases works of art by the artist’s peers. This allows visitors to get a comprehensive look at the art world of the 19th century and the evolution of the impressionist movement. Rodin, Denis, Van Dongen, and Monet are just a few of the other artists on display in the museum.
Admission is free for members, certain city pass holders, and children under 18, €10 (~$11) for students through the end of 2023 (€11 (~$12) starting in 2024), and €20 (~$21) for adults through the end of 2023 (€22 (~$23) starting in 2024). The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The nearest transit stop is Van Baerlestraat.
We’ve indicated with each museum whether or not children, students, or seniors receive free or reduced admission. Several other programs offer similar concessions.
The I amsterdam City Card is the most popular museum pass. Holders can visit over 70 participating attractions and use public transportation for as long as the card is active. Currently, 24-, 48-, 72-, 96-, and 120-hour cards are available. Some of the museums included in this card are the ARTIS, the Cobra Museum of Modern Art, the Eye Filmmuseum, the FOAM, the Museum of the Canals, the Resistance Museum, and the Rijksmuseum.
The Netherlands Museum Pass grants holders access to museums around the country. Some of the museums in the greater Amsterdam area that this pass allows access to are the the Diamond Museum, the Embassy of the Free Mind, the FOAM, the Huis Marseille, the Museum Van Loon, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Verzetsmuseum, and the Wereldmuseum.
Participation is subject to change; please verify participating museums and entry conditions before your visit.
Some of Amsterdam’s most beloved sites are its museums. So, it’s not surprising that the city has plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re a fan of art and culture or you’re more of a history buff, there’s an Amsterdam museum fit for you and your trip. We hope this list can help you decide which you should visit first.
Advanced ticket reservations aren’t always necessary when visiting Amsterdam’s museums. However, if you know which facilities you’d like to visit, purchasing your tickets ahead of time will guarantee your spot, especially when visiting during busy tourism times like summer.
Amsterdam has a number of museums that are free for all visitors and can help you explore the city a little better. These are small cultural museums meant to educate guests about the city’s history, traditions, and folklore that run on donations.
If you plan to visit a lot of museums while you’re in Amsterdam, getting a pass like the I amsterdam City Card will help you skip lines and save money on tickets. Alternatively, you can focus on visiting primarily museums without admission.
There are over 70 museums currently open in Amsterdam. These museums range from art galleries to historic homes and centers that help preserve the city’s culture. There are also other historic landmarks with small galleries attached, giving visitors a miniature museum experience.
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