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12x must-see museums in Amsterdam

Modern marvels and the cream of the classics on both sides of the IJ

Amsterdam’s cultural offer can be overwhelming. So where should you really visit? We’re here to help: these museums are worth your time at any season of the year.

Amsterdam’s cultural offer can be overwhelming. So where should you really visit? We’re here to help: these museums are worth your time at any season of the year.

Rijksmuseum front, face, Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum front, face, Amsterdam
Hall of Fame at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Hall of Fame at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

#1. Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is packed with 800 years of Dutch art and history. From the Middle Ages to Mondrian, as they say. The division is fairly chronological, with paintings and historical objects together telling the story of a period. From the Middle Ages on the ground floor, you progress to the first floor with Vincent van Gogh, Goya and Romanticism. A flight of stairs further, you’ll find the old masters of the Golden Age in the gallery of honour. For afters, there’s the third floor, with art from the 20th century.

Museumstraat 1, rijksmuseum.nl

The Rijksmuseum is packed with 800 years of Dutch art and history
Outside the Stedelijk Museum, facade, Amsterdam
Outside the Stedelijk Museum, facade, Amsterdam
Museum store at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Museum store at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Here visitors can immerse themselves in modern and contemporary art and design

#2. Stedelijk Museum

On Museumplein, the Stedelijk – as it is usually known – is simply unmissable. Next to the beautiful 19th-century ‘old’ building is a striking new (2012) white structure, known locally as ‘the bathtub’ because it looks like one. Inside, visitors can immerse themselves in modern and contemporary art and design. The permanent collection is really extensive, and the temporary exhibitions are almost always interactive. In addition to established names, up-and-coming young artists get solo exhibitions and all the museum’s attention.

Museumplein 10,  stedelijk.nl

EYE film museum building in Amsterdam
EYE film museum building in Amsterdam
EYE film museum exhibition in Amsterdam
EYE film museum exhibition in Amsterdam

#3. EYE Film Museum

The EYE is heaven for lovers of film and film culture. The museum manages more than 40,000 films from all genres, from classics to cult movies. With its exhibitions, the museum highlights various aspects of film culture. On display are famous set photos and film equipment from the past and present, and you can find out how a film is made. Of course, you can also ‘just’ see a movie, on one of the four cinema screens. Extra tip: the museum shop is full of great gadgets.

IJpromenade 1, eyefilm.nl

With its exhibitions, the museum highlights various aspects of film culture
Building, view of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Building, view of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Painting by Vincent van Gogh, Van Gogh museum
Painting by Vincent van Gogh, Van Gogh museum
More than two million visitors a year spend a day in this museum full of masterpieces

#4. Van Gogh Museum

If you’ve never heard of Vincent van Gogh, perhaps you need to check your ears. Especially the left ear – the one Vincent cut off when he was 34… Doesn’t that ring a bell? This Dutch post-impressionist era painter has works like The Potato Eaters and Sunflowers to his name. In Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter, an impressive building is completely dedicated to this great artist. More than two million visitors a year spend a day in this museum full of masterpieces. With these visitor figures, this museum, with its continuous, very extensive exhibition programme, can rival the Rijksmuseum. That says it all. Must-sees? The Van Gogh Museum is top of the list!

Museumplein 6, vangoghmuseum.nl

Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam
Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam
Exhibition at the Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam
Exhibition at the Scheepvaartmuseum, Amsterdam

#5. The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum)

The National Maritime Museum’s name says it all: in this museum you’ll find everything that has to do with Dutch seagoing history. In the enormous collection there are paintings, ship models, world maps, navigation instruments and of course many thrilling, heroic stories about ocean adventures – after all, the Netherlands has a long history as a sea power. From Michiel de Ruijter to the VOC, this museum highlights the past 500 years. The showpiece of the museum is the replica of the VOC ship The Amsterdam, which is proudly afloat in front of the museum, together with the original steamship Christiaan Brunings.

Kattenburgerplein 1, hetscheepvaartmuseum.nl

The showpiece of the museum is the replica of the VOC ship The Amsterdam
Anne's room at the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
Anne Frank Museum building, facade of Prinsengracht 263, Amsterdam
The door that gave access to Anne Frank's hiding place, Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

#6. Anne Frank House

A canal house at Prinsengracht 263 houses one of the most famous museums in the Netherlands. It was here that Anne Frank wrote about her precarious daily life in a diary during the Second World War. The young Jewish girl, who desperately wanted to be a writer, became world famous for her tragic life story. The place where she spent her last years in uncertainty, Het Achterhuis, is now a museum, which attracts more than a million visitors every year. In a more modern setting, you walk step-by-step through Anne’s life, see her original diary and enter the secret annex through the door behind the bookcase. Expect a powerful, silence-inducing experience.

Westermarkt 20, annefrank.org

The place where Anne Frank spent her last years in uncertainty, Het Achterhuis, is now a museum
Paintings in the exhibition of the MOCO museum in Amsterdam
Paintings in the exhibition of the MOCO museum in Amsterdam
MOCO museum facade, Amsterdam
MOCO museum facade, Amsterdam
Banksy, Warhol, Haring, Kusama, Dalí… this museum focuses on the masters of recent times

#7. Moco

Among all the museums with works of art from bygone centuries you’ll find the Moco museum. Immerse yourself in modern art as you glimpse the Van Gogh Museum through the windows of this stately mansion. Banksy, Warhol, Haring, Kusama, Dalí… this museum focuses on the masters of recent times. The art collection in the museum is constantly changing, but you’ll always come face to face with iconic works. Some of the art treasures are shown interactively and the basement is the place to go all out for your Insta profile! Nice!

Honthorststraat 20, mocomuseum.nl/

Rembrandt paintings and sketches at The Rembrandt house in Amsterdam
Rembrandt paintings and sketches at The Rembrandt house in Amsterdam
Facade of The Rembrandt House in Amsterdam
Facade of The Rembrandt House in Amsterdam

#8. Rembrandt House Museum (Museum Het Rembrandthuis )

Rembrandt van Rijn is one of the most famous Dutch artists of all time. In the Rembrandt House you can travel back to the 17th century by visiting the place where the great master lived and worked, giving his creative brain free rein between 1639 and 1658. Stand face to face with sketches and drawings and learn more about the life of The Night Watch painter. Please note: don’t expect to see paintings by Rembrandt in this museum, as they are rarely seen here.

Jodenbreestraat 4, rembrandthuis.nl

In the Rembrandt House you can travel back to the 17th century by visiting the place where Rembrandt lived and worked
Keti Koti celebration at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam
Keti Koti celebration at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam
Tropenmuseum art, Amsterdam
Tropenmuseum art, Amsterdam
If you’re curious about all the ins and outs of different world cultures, this is the place to be

#9. Tropenmuseum

Tropical and subtropical areas are central to the Tropenmuseum, which used to be called the Colonial Museum. If you’re curious about all the ins and outs of different world cultures, this is the place to be. From art objects, textiles and historic objects to (video) images, photos and sound fragments, this museum is a rich ethnological experience. Sounds boring? It really isn’t! The Tropenmuseum is popular (200,000 visitors a year) for good reason.

Linnaeusstraat 2, tropenmuseum.nl

Armor from State Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam
Armor from State Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam
Artwork from State Hermitage Museum exhibition in Amsterdam
Artwork from State Hermitage Museum exhibition in Amsterdam

#10. Hermitage

Treasures from Saint Petersburg on display in Amsterdam: that’s the Hermitage. The museum of the same name in Russia is known for its enormous art collection, which certainly isn’t just around the corner for us. The beauty of the Hermitage is that it houses (changing) parts of this extensive Russian collection which travel to the Netherlands. The ideal way to take a look at a world-famous art collection and also enjoy an impressive building with a beautiful courtyard.

Amstel 51, hermitage.nl

The beauty of the Hermitage is that it houses parts of this extensive Russian collection which travel to the Netherlands
Ons Lieve Heer op Solder museum, church, Amsterdam
Ons Lieve Heer op Solder museum, church, Amsterdam
Ons Lieve Heer op Solder room, Amsterdam
Ons Lieve Heer op Solder room, Amsterdam
The beautiful place of worship that can be found in the attic of the building is a secret Roman Catholic church

#11. Our Lord in the Attic Museum (Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder)

You’d never suspect it, but behind the façade of a canal house on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal there has been a church since 1661. From the outside you would never know that the house of God is here, but that was exactly the idea. The beautiful place of worship that can be found in the attic of the building is a secret Roman Catholic church. You’ll need to wear colourful shoe protectors if you want to see the Golden Age church, which is highly recommended. Walk through all the rooms of this former home of Jan Hartman and his family, admire a box bed, a confessional and an authentic 17th-century kitchen, and then enter the dazzling attic. The museum has been on the brink of closure for years now, so head over there. The experience is a truly unique one!

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, opsolder.nl/

NEMO science museum in Amsterdam, facade and building
NEMO science museum in Amsterdam, facade and building
Creating a tornado with water, NEMO museum in Amsterdam
Creating a tornado with water, NEMO museum in Amsterdam

#12. NEMO Science Museum

No, this boat-shaped museum is not the Maritime Museum, which many tourists assume it must be, but NEMO. This science museum challenges all its visitors to experiment with science. You get to explore the worlds of physics, chemistry, biology and behavioural sciences. Not averse to a fun experiment or to trying something new? NEMO is guaranteed to bring out the curious child in you. This place never fails to amaze: science has never been so much fun!

Oosterdok 2, nemosciencemuseum.nl

Here you get to explore the worlds of physics, chemistry, biology and behavioural sciences
Location & route
  1. Rijksmuseum
  2. Stedelijk Museum
  3. EYE film museum
  4. Van Gogh museum
  5. Scheepvaartmuseum
  6. Anne Frank Huis
  7. MOCO
  8. Rembrandt House
  9. Tropenmuseum
  10. Hermitage
  11. Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder
  12. NEMO science museum
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