Located in the province of North Holland, the city of Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands. And, also the most populous municipality in the country. The city has derived its name from Amstelredamme which is quite indicative of the city’s origin. To be precise, Amsterdam city has developed around a dam in the river Amstel. Hence, the name. Once what had been a small fishing village transformed into an important port during the Dutch Golden Age. It was all because of it’s progressive and innovative developments in trade. Those had been the times when the city was the leading centre for finance and trade. Gradually, the city expanded during the 19th and 20th centuries, and many new neighbourhoods and suburbs were built.
The core of this canal-woven city is laced by narrow lanes which gives a feeling of nostalgia. And, to add to the aesthetics of the city are the tilted gabled buildings lined along the Golden-Age canals. All these come together to serve as the atmospheric backdrop of the Amsterdam Museums. Oh yes. You can’t write pages on Amsterdam without giving a special mention of the treasure-packed museums there- Vintage-filled shops selling antiques, hyper-creative design, drinking and dining scenes. But, this article is all about the much-hyped and much-visited museums of Amsterdam.
8 Top Amsterdam museums
Home to no fewer than 400 museums, it can be difficult to decide on which to see and which to leave. Every Amsterdam museum is home to one or the other masterpiece. Few hidden museums which are not much talked of also do have their own share of collections. And, yes. They are worth a mention. Let’s take a look at some of the best of all Amsterdam museums.
- Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
- Maritime Museum Amsterdam
- Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam
- Museum Van Loon Amsterdam
- Joods Historisch Museum
- Anne Frank House
- Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
- Hermitage Amsterdam
1. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Dedicated to arts and history this is a Dutch National Museum. Located at the Museum Square, this Amsterdam museum was founded in The Hague in 1800. The current building which a tourist gets to visit now had been designed by Pierre Cuypers. And, it was first opened in the year 1885. Rijksmuseum is the most visited Amsterdam museum in the Netherlands. The recorded number of tourists had reached up to 2.2 million to 2.47 million in the past two years. With a display of 8000 objects of art and history, their actual total collection goes almost up to 1 million. Among these, there are masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. Rijksmuseum also has a specific collection of Asian arts and artefacts, which is on display in the Asian pavilion.
The national print library, Rijksprentenkabinet is also housed in this particular museum. Considered as the most extensive art historical library in the Netherlands, it has a massive collection of catalogues, books and periodicals. The library also shares a reading room with the Prentenkabinet where tourists come down to view prints, drawings and photographs. Even if you do not wish to explore the complete museum, the building alone is well worth a visit. Featured on the UNESCO heritage list, it also has a garden with changing sculptures on display.
Tips: Book a guided tour to ensure speedy admission during busy hours. If you plan on visiting individually, then the best time to go there would be either early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.
- Timings: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Entry Fee: Adults (20 Euros), Children aged under 18 (Free admission)
Also See: Best Indian restaurants in Amsterdam
2. Maritime Museum Amsterdam
With approximately 400,000 objects, Maritime Museum Amsterdam has the largest and most prominent collections in the world. This particular Amsterdam Museum holds 500 years of Dutch Maritime history within it. Paintings, ship models, navigation instruments and world maps. You need to visit this museum to whiteness the treasure it holds within. The paintings housed there depicts Dutch naval officers such as Michiel de Ruyter and historic sea battles. There is also a map collection which includes works by 17th-century cartographers William Blaeu and his son Joan Blaeu.
Just secured outside the museum is a replica of the Amsterdam, an 18-th century ship. It sailed between the Netherlands and the East Indies. Between 2007 to 2011, the museum had been shut down and underwent a complete renovation. Post-renovation the museum got an additional stunning glass roof over the inner courtyard. Precisely, it had been made up of 1,200 glass pieces. Exhibits at the Maritime Museum Amsterdam are displayed in a modern and innovative way with full use of multimedia. And, also with excellent bilingual (Dutch/English) labelling.
- Timings: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Entry Fee: Adults (16.50 Euros), Children aged 4-17 (8 Euros)
3. Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam
This Amsterdam museum has been known to be dedicated to the works of Vincent Van Gogh and his contemporaries. Located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, it was opened on 2 June 1973. In 2017, the Dutch institution welcomed a record of 2.26 million visitors. And, that obviously did upscale it to the most visited museums in the Netherlands. The 200 strong painting collections consist of The Potato Eaters, Wheatfield with Crows and the postcard-perfect Sunflowers. In 2015, the new glass entrance hall had been added at the back of its building.
The Van Gogh Museum not only does hold Amsterdam’s second most impressive collection. But, it also does manage to maintain and nurture an inspiring atmosphere where a variety of activities are offered. Make sure to visit on a Friday night when the museum’s ground floor is converted into a lounge bar hosting various events. Musical as well as artistic events. There are also occasional free guided tours which you can opt for.
Facts: Van Gogh Museum is the 2nd most visited museum in the Netherlands and the 25th most visited art museum in the world. Kisho Kurokawa had designed the museum’s exhibition wing, which opened its doors in 1999. In 2002, two paintings were stolen from the museum Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen and View of the Sea at Scheveningen.
- Timings: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Entry Fee: Adults (17 Euros), Children under 18 (Free)
Tips: Get the iAmsterdam City Card that lasts for 24-96 hours depending on the duration you choose. This way, you would save a lot of money on museum hopping. For visiting the Van Gogh museum, please buy tickets online. The whole museum tour takes about 1 and a half hour.
4. Museum Van Loon Amsterdam
Located in a canalside house alongside the Keizersgracht, this Amsterdam Museum is named after the family Van Loon. It was during the 19th century that the Van Loon family did reside in this place which has now been converted into a museum. This museum is an amazing example of a Grand Canal home. Kind of a step back in time to see how the wealthy family of Van Loon lived there.
It was in 1602 that William Van Loon co-founded the VOC, also known as the Dutch East India Company. Post that his great-grandson became the mayor of Amsterdam. You can still find the family living in the top floor of this museum. As for the lower level, it has been generously opened to the visitors. That way, anyone can visit and acquire knowledge about the royal family.
With beautiful paintings and lovely furnishings, the home is an epitome of the Golden Age of Amsterdam. Originally built in 1672 by the architect Adriaen Dortsman, it was the residence of painter Ferdinand Bol. In 1884, the Van Loon family purchased the property, and since then it has belonged only to them.
- Timings: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Entry Fee: Adults (9 Euros), Children aged 6-18 (5 Euros), Students (7 Euros)
5) Joods Historisch Museum
Part of the Jewish Cultural Quarter, this Amsterdam museum is dedicated to Jewish history, culture and religion. In the Netherlands and also worldwide, it is the only museum which is completely dedicated to Jewish history. It was in the year 1932 that the Joods Historisch Museum opened it’s doors to the public. Following the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, the museum was forced to shut down.
That also led to most of the collection getting lost or stolen. It was again in 1955 that the museum reopened and in 1987, it also moved to brand new location. Almost 11,000 art and ceremonial objects are housed in the museum collection.
In the recent few years, the management has been responsible for a succession of thought-provoking exhibits. Most of them did focus on artistic development, major art movements, and social context. The museum is housed in a complex of seventeenth-century synagogues.
Facts: The entry ticket you buy to visit this museum is valid for a month. So, if you are in Amsterdam for a longer time, you can always re-visit.
- Timings: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Entry Fee: Adults (15 Euros), Children aged 13-17 (7.50 Euros), Children aged 6-12 (3.75 Euros)
Tips: Visit the impressive Portuguese synagogue across the street
6. Anne Frank House
One of the most talked about Amsterdam Museum, it is a biographical museum dedicated to Anne Frank. Located on a canal called the Prinsengracht, close to the Westerkerk, it is also a writer’s house. It was during World War II that Anne Frank hid with her family in hidden rooms from the Nazi Persecution. To be precise, the rooms were at the rear of the 17th-century canal house, known as the Secret Annex. Even though Anne Frank didn’t survive the war, but in 1947, her wartime diary was published. And, it was in 1957, that the Anne Frank Foundation had been established to protect the property. And, finally, on 3 May 1960, the museum opened it’s doors to the visitors.
The museum or better known as Frank’s hiding place is now preserved and hosts a permanent exhibit. The life and times of Anne Frank. It’s one of the most poignant of the city’s museums. To explore the complete house, it takes about an hour. And, no matter how much you think you know about Anne Frank, well, just visit this museum once. You would leave stunned to realize that your knowledge was never enough.
Facts: Relevant passages from Anne Frank’s diary are printed on the walls throughout the house in both Dutch and English.
- Timings: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
- Entry Fee: Adults (10.50 Euros), Children aged 10-17 (5.50 Euros), Children aged 0-9 (0.50 Euros)
Tips: Do read or re-read The Diary of Anne Frank before visiting the museum. Book your tickets online and well in advance. Tickets are mostly released two months prior. So, keep track and re-check on the dates before your visit.
7. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Colloquially known as the Stedelijk, this Amsterdam museum is the one for modern and contemporary art and design. It’s a 19th-century structure which had been designed by Adriaan Willem Weissman. As for the 21st-century wing with the current entrance had been designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough of Amsterdam South. Quite close to the Van Gogh, the Rijksmuseum, and the Concertgebouw. Till date, the museum is known to be one of the most innovative and interesting museums of modern art in the entire world.
The collection at the museum consists of extraordinary pieces of art by renowned artists. These works also include a number of works by major twentieth-century Dutch artists as well. Iconic works by Karel Appel, Cézanne, Malevich, Matisse, Mondrian, Picasso, Pollock, Warhol and many others are on display. It’s a complete 150 years of visual treat to the one who visits this place. The museum’s collection contains almost around 90,000 artworks and objects, dating from 1870 to present.
- Timings: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Entry Fee: Adults (18.50 Euros), Students (10 Euros)
8. Hermitage Amsterdam
A branch of the Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg, Russia, this Amsterdam Museum is located on the banks of the Amstel River. A classical style building by the name of Amstelhof houses the Hermitage Amsterdam. Formerly, it was a nursing home which has now been converted into a magnificent space for exhibits. It was back in 2009, following a 40 million Euros renovation, that the Hermitage opened it’s doors to the public. With much pomp and show, the Dutch Queen Beatrix and the Russian President conducted the necessary honours for the opening ceremony. Since then, this museum has been established as one of Amsterdam’s principal museums. And that too with around 400,000 annual visitors.
Similar to the museum in St. Petersberg, the Hermitage has an impressive record of hosting mega exhibitions. Most of them are to showcase the masterworks of the Dutch Golden Age and even of greats like Matisse and Malevich. This Amsterdam museum has also been known to provide a temporary home to many of Van Gogh Museum’s treasures in 2012.
Tips: There is an airy Church Hall at the front of the building. It gives you an amazing view of the Amstel River if you look out from there. There’s also a small room called Panorama Amsterdam. City Time Lapse which shows a visual exhibition showing how the city developed from the Middle Ages to the present day. Do see that to gain a deeper knowledge of the museum.
- Timings: 12:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Entry Fee: Adults (25.00 Euros), Children up to 12 years (Free)
The main tourist attractions of this city are the Amsterdam Museums. From a museum about Dutch paintings to the collection of handbags to photography. Amsterdam has it all. There’s a handy visitor pass available which would help you to travel cheap. Do avail that. So, if you are an ardent lover of all things art, then Amsterdam should be your next destination.