A Total Guide to Museums in Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum

A must-visit for classical art-lovers, this museum has an impressive collection from the 800-year time period between 1200–2000, with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer on display.

The building itself is a triumph Dutch architecture, in a majestic blend of Gothic and the Renaissance styles, and it is the only museum in the world that you can cycle through.

The Rijksmuseum is one of Amsterdam’s grandest and most popular museums. Its vast collection showcases iconic art and a wide variety of artefacts that reflect more than 800 years of Dutch and global history, including jaw dropping paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and countless more Dutch greats.

Annual Visitors: 2.3 million
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The Night Watch (1642)
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Van Gogh Museum

Truly a must-visit for Van Gogh fans, here you’ll find the largest collection of his work in the world with 200 of his paintings, 400 drawings and 700 letters.

In addition to the curation of Van Gogh’s masterpieces, there are also rotating exhibitions and works by his contemporaries including Monet and Pissarro and later artists who were inspired by Van Gogh, including Steven Aalders and Zeng Fanzhi.

This sleek museum is also on Museumplein, alongside the Stedelijk and the Rijksmuseum, but don’t try to fit visit all three in a single day; there is simply too much to see.

Annual Visitors: 2.67 million
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Stedelijk Museum

A stone’s throw from the Rijksmuseum, this modern art museum displays 90,000 works from the early 20th and 21st century.

Expect pieces by Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, Gerrit Rietveld, Nola Hatterman, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Karel Appel, Andy Warhol and more.

The 2012 renovation added a new wing that’s dubbed “the bathtub” by locals because it looks like a giant, shiny-white bathtub plopped smack in Museumplein.

Annual Visitors: 670,000
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Anne Frank House

Step into the pages of The Diary of Anne Frank by exploring the house where 13-year-old Frank hid with her family for two years during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam.

Opened in 1960, this museum on Prinsengracht preserves the annex where they lived and showcases objects, photographs and historical documents from the time, piecing together a moving narrative of the events that took place.

Annual Visitors: 1.2 million
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Rembrandt House

In this space that Rembrandt called home for 20 years, you’ll see exhibitions about the iconic Dutch master, his predecessors, contemporaries and pupils.

The house itself has been carefully restored to its 17th-century glory, decorated with furniture and objects from that time. Walking through its rooms provides a rare glimpse into the life of the great artist.

Annual Visitors: 250,000
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National Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum has endless entertainment for sea-faring families.

On a swashbuckling tour of the East Indiaman Amsterdam ship, Rinus the Rat guides visitors through firing a cannon, scuttling through the hold and other hands-on activities that will give you an idea of what life was like aboard the real 18th-century ship all those years ago.

The museums collection of 400,000 maritime objects, including, paintings, models of ships, navigation instruments, and maps of the world, is one of the largest in the world.

Annual Visitors: 350,000
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Hermitage Amsterdam

Get a taste of Russian refinement right in the heart of Amsterdam. The Hermitage Amsterdam is a satellite of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and displays a rotating selection of work from the Russian grand dame’s permanent collection.

The relationship between the two museums highlights the historical links between Amsterdam and Russia, dating back to Tsar Peter the Great’s visit to the Netherlands at the end of the 17th century. Exhibitions range from the classic Dutch ensemble paintings in “Portrait Gallery of the 17th Century” to “Jewels!”, a glittering assortment of Russian gems, bracelets and baubles.

Annual Visitors: 400,000
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Jewish Historical Museum

The Jewish Historical Museum is located at the heart of Amsterdam’s former Jewish quarter.

Although not as famous as the bigger art museums, it is in fact one of the city’s most acclaimed museums due to its incisive programming. Housed in four former Ashkenazi synagogues dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, its permanent exhibition reflects the versatility of Judaism in the past and present.

It also has its own dedicated children’s museum with exceptional educational facilities.

Annual Visitors: 117,000
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Red Light Secrets

Experience an intriguing world that remains hidden to many as you uncover the truth behind Amsterdam’s most notorious neighbourhood: the Red Light District.

Red Light Secrets, Museum of Prostitution offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the oldest profession in the world.

Listen to the secrets of the women themselves – their moving dreams and desires, but also the disappointments they have suffered in their lives. A short film will also introduce you to the other aspects of the Red Light District, which is much more than just a neighbourhood for paid sex.

Annual Visitors: 335,000
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NEMO Science Centre

NEMO Science Museum invites families to interact with science and technology in an informal and engaging setting.

The five-story building itself is a landmark on the Oosterdok, jutting out of the water like the hull of a copper-green ship.

The 19,000 artefacts show how technology has developed over the years, in an anthology of the first electrical home appliances and everything from the parlograph to the Walkman.

Annual Visitors: 665,000
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Dutch Resistance Museum

The Dutch Resistance Museum, known to locals as the Verzetsmuseum, details the history of the Dutch resistance in World War II during the country’s occupation by Germany from May 1940 to May 1945.

Resistance in the Netherlands took many forms, from small acts like displaying postage stamps with the Queen’s face, to life-threatening activities, such as spying for the Allies, helping people go underground or distributing illegal newspapers to keep the population informed. The museum documents a variety of these activities in a thoughtful and moving way.

Annual Visitors: Unknown
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Moco Museum

The Moco Museum (Modern Contemporary) aims to reach out to a wide, international audience in Amsterdam by featuring works created by the ‘rock stars’ of the art world, such as Banksy.

It is a private initiative, and the pieces on exhibition are made available thanks to individual loans.

In the gift shop you will find several items pertaining to Banksy and Warhol.

Annual Visitors: 600,000
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Tropenmuseum

The architecture alone in this spectacular building makes it worth a visit. It took almost 10 years to build and was officially opened in 1926 by Queen Wilhelmina.

The central atrium affords an expansive, light-drenched view of the museum’s various floors and exhibits. The permanent collection is an exploration of culture, where visitors can peruse beautiful artefacts from all over the world, each with its own story to tell.

Annual Visitors: 211,000
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Body Worlds

BODY WORLDS Amsterdam will take you on a fascinating journey through the human body. The exhibition displays real plastinated bodies, giving you a unique peek into our anatomy and how our bodies work.

The exhibitions are the creation of Dr. Gunther von Hagens, who invented the process of plastination in the University of Heidelberg in 1977. The original exhibitions have been the subject of imitation by countless copycats, but they remain unmatched in terms of quality and innovation.

Annual Visitors: 343,000
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Foam Museum

This stylish address on Keizersgracht is dedicated to photography.

Using a mix of exhibitions, publications, debates and educational projects, its mission is to inform and involve the community in the world of contemporary photography, with displays organised by categories including documentary, art and fashion.

You’ll find historic works by world-famous photographers hanging alongside modern shots by emerging artists.

Annual Visitors: 193,000
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Heineken Museum

After Heineken constructed a larger and more modern brewery on the outskirts of Amsterdam, they converted their former home into a museum that opened in 1991.

This interactive museum will take you on an exciting, behind-the-scenes journey through the wild world of one of Europe’s most popular pilsners.

It’s now among the city’s most visited attractions, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Annual Visitors: 1.2 Million
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Sex Museum

Located in the centre of Amsterdam, the Venustempel (temple of Venus) is the world’s first and oldest sex museum.

The museum looks at many aspects of sensual love through the ages, displaying an extensive collection of erotic pictures, paints, recordings, photographs and more.

The vast collection was personally gathered by the museum’s owners and is now on permanent display in their 17th-century property on the Damrak.

Annual Visitors: Unknown
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Diamond Museum

Discover 400 years of diamond history in Europe’s only Diamond Museum and find out why Amsterdam is called the “City of Diamonds”.

The museum takes you on a journey that starts 3 billion years ago, 200 km below your feet and ends up in the ring on your finger.

The Diamond Museum does not only present a historical view. It also has a stunning permanent collection with famous pieces, such as the glass-diamond Katana, the smallest diamond ever polished, and the diamond Ape Skull. This skull contains 17,000 brilliant diamonds.

Annual Visitors: Unknown
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Houseboat Museum

The Houseboat Museum gives you the unique opportunity to experience what life is like on board a houseboat in an Amsterdam canal.

The Houseboat Museum is located in the “Hendrika Maria”, a former freighter moored on the Prinsengracht. Until the 1960s, the boat was primarily used for hauling sand and gravel.

Even after it was turned into a houseboat, the owners kept much of its original exterior.

Annual Visitors: Unknown
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Torture Museum

The Torture Museum features a variety of interestingly weird devices used in the middle ages for torture purposes.

There are objects like; the Guillotine, the Rack and Stocks, the Thumb Screws and the Flute of Shame. Other torture devices housed in the museum include; the Iron Maiden, Skull Crusher, the Judas Chair, Catherine Wheels and Scold’s bridle.

Some of the devices are genuinely antique pieces while others are modern reconstructions. These devices are illustrated with engravings and described with historical background information in eight different languages.

Annual Visitors: Unknown
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Amsterdam Museum

Set in a former orphanage, this museum will give you an engaging overview of Amsterdam’s origin story.

Its curation of art, household items, books, archeological artefacts, journals and reference papers, interactive displays and multimedia exhibits chronicles how this 1000-year-old trading city has maintained its culture of creativity and free-thinking through the millenia.

Annual Visitors: 460,000
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Hash Mariuana & Hemp Museum

Amsterdam’s Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum offers visitors extensive documentation and historical facts about the cannabis plant. Visitors can learn how this versatile plant contributed to developments in clothing, medicine, sea travel, agriculture and more.

There are informative displays about hash’s medicinal, religious and cultural applications. The Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum shows how cannabis and hemp (which are in fact simply different strains of the same plant) have been part of everyday life for thousands of years.

Annual Visitors: Unknown
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Museum Vrolik

Certainly one of Amsterdam’s more unusual museums, Museum Vrolik is home to an extraordinary collection of medical case studies, accrued by 19th-century medical professor Gerardus Vrolik, his son Willem and numerous other medical professionals.

Not for the faint-hearted, the unique collection contains an extensive range of conserved anatomical specimens, skeletons, skulls, anatomical models and reconstructions. Of huge scientific value is the collection of specimens showing birth defects, including Siamese twins and cyclopean babies.

Annual Visitors: Unknown
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Eye Filmmuseum

A landmark on the IJ, Eye Filmmuseum is an architectural wonder, designed to play with light, space, and movement in much the same way as film. Inside the slick, multi-faceted white structure is an impressive complication of movie posts, project equipment, almost 40,000 films and other objects that reflect Dutch film culture.

The four intimate cinemas onsite screen both blockbusters and limited-release arthouse films that are hard to find elsewhere in the country.

Annual Visitors: Unknown
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Nieuwe Kerk

One of Amsterdam’s most impressive historical monuments, De Nieuwe Kerk is a place of inspiration, commemoration, and celebration in Dam Square, the heart of the city.

For decades, De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam has been known for its high-profile exhibitions about art, photography, and inspiring individuals and cultures.

Annual Visitors: 275,000
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the church is one of the most popular exhibition venues in the Netherlands. It also plays a role of national significance, hosting royal ceremonies, official gatherings, and cultural events.

National Holocaust Museum

The National Holocaust Museum presents a range of exhibitions and events that introduces visitors to the multitude of stories about the Holocaust. These stories are told in an artistic form, illustrated by authentic objects and based on personal accounts.

The museum is still in development and will pass through several stages over the coming years. The overarching goal is a permanent National Holocaust Museum that details the history of the Holocaust in the Netherlands in a broad international context.

Annual Visitors: 275,000
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Hollandsche Schouwburg

This theatre saw many opening performances of Dutch theatre productions, such as ‘Op hoop van zegen’ (on good hope) by Herman Heijermans (1864-1925).

The Joodsche Schouwburg (Jewish Theatre) could be found here during the German occupation. Only Jewish performers and spectators were allowed.

It served as an assembly point in the summer of 1942, from which tens of thousands of Jewish men, women and children were deported. The theatre serves as a memorial since 1962.

Annual Visitors: 74,000
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Electric Ladyland: The Museum of Fluorescent Art

As the only museum of its kind in the world, Electric Ladyland is dedicated to fluorescent art.

The museum displays a permanent collection of fluorescent minerals, fluorescent artwork from the 1950s and other glowing artefacts. They also have a “Flourescent Environment” where visitors can participate in creating a sculptural piece of illuminated art.

KattenKabinet

The Kattenkabinet (Cat Cabinet) is located in a lovely canal house in Amsterdam.

This museum is dedicated entirely to the role of cats in art and culture throughout history. Paintings, sculptures, posters and other cat-related objects are on display, watched over by some friendly felines.

The Totalitarian Art Gallery

This gallery and antique shop sells an eclectic selection of unusual art and memorabilia from the Soviet era including paintings, signs, toys and busts of Stalin.

Pianola Museum

The Geelvinck Pianola Museum is one of Amsterdam’s smallest museums, tucked away in the Jordaan district.

Inside the museum, you will find numerous pianolas (player pianos), reproduction pianos and related objects. The museum archive has a collection of over 30,000 perforated paper music rolls, most of which can be played on the different instruments housed in the museum.

Visit the Pianola Museum to learn more about the history and technology of these magical instruments that nearly play themselves.

Museum Tot Zover

How do we deal with death? That’s the eternal question Museum Tot Zover is dying to answer through its exhibitions in art, photography and history.

The permanent collection touches upon all aspects of burial, cremation and bereavement throughout the ages. It also includes a variety of funeral coaches, including a nineteenth century ceremonial carriage, hearses, obituaries, mourning attire and services. We also look at historical customs, from royal processions to rural ceremonies which have remained unchanged for centuries.

Museum Tot Zover currently has the contemporary art exhibition Eat Love Die on display. An exploration on transience, sensuality and death: what disappears when someone dies, and what traces do you leave behind?

Amsterdam Cheese Museum

Just a step from Anne Frank House, on the other side of the Prinsengracht a small museum has been organized, dedicated exclusively to Dutch cheese.

It is an attractive shop with also an exhibition part and one of the sellers always wears the traditional Dutch clothes.

Dutch cheese has more than 600 years long tradition and the names of different sorts of cheese are often taken from different cities in the Netherlands – Gouda, Edam, Leerdammer, Leyden, Maaslander, Maasdam and of course a gourmet Old Amsterdam.

Six Collection

An exquisite small museum located in a private house of the Dutch aristocratic Six family with roots reaching back to the year 1032.

The Six’s collected art and were wise enough to preserve it through the centuries, although eight most valuable paintings from their collection including “The Milkmaid” by Vermeer were purchased in 1908 by the Dutch State and are now to see at the Rijksmuseum.

The truly wonderful portrait of Jan Six (1618 – 1700), Amsterdam mayor, writer and art collector painted in 1654 by Rembrandt is the highlight of the collection.

Biblical Museum

Archaeological discoveries, artefacts from ancient Egypt, centuries-old models of the temple of Solomon and Herod, religious objects from the Judeo-Christian tradition and even aromas bring Bible stories to life for visitors to the Biblical Museum.

The Biblical Museum is housed in two stately buildings on the Herengracht, designed by the 17th-century renowned architect Philips Vingboons and commissioned by the Amsterdam merchant Jacob Cromhout in 1662.

Amsterdam Tulip Museum

In the 17th century, the craze for trading tulips reached new heights – resulting in Tulipomania. People were trying to earn their fortunes from tulips, and even sold their houses to invest in special tulip stock exchanges. Although they’re a little more sensible these days, the Dutch still love their tulips and the flower has become a national icon.

Located in the Jordaan district, the Amsterdam Tulip Museum pays tribute to this delicate flower that has ignited great passion and envy over the centuries. The museum details Holland’s fascinating horticultural story, including the phenomenon known as “Tulipomania”.

Amsterdam Pipe Museum

In the historic ambiance of a 17th-century canal house, the Amsterdam Pipe Museum presents an overview of smoking pipes throughout the ages. The exhibition covers a period of 2,500 years and includes exciting objects from five continents. It represents the life’s work of a serious collector who spent forty years amassing the world’s most renowned pipe collection. Take a private tour of the ground floor of the collector’s house for an unexpected experience!

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