A simply wonderful city to walk around, Amsterdam is home to some brilliant museums, with most of them conveniently located in the center of the city. The capital of the Netherlands has a lively arts and culture scene, with many of its most famous institutions centered around Museum Park.
The Netherlands has been home to many renowned painters over the ages; wandering around the galleries in the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum is a magical experience, while the nearby Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam offers up more contemporary pieces. With science, history and culture also represented amongst its many museums, Amsterdam really does have something for everyone to enjoy.
See also: Where to Stay in Amsterdam
12. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Dedicated to the main art and design movements of the 20th and 21st Centuries, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam houses a fantastic collection that is unrivaled in the Netherlands. Reopened after an extensive revamp in 2012, the modern and contemporary art on display is breathtaking for the breadth that it covers.
The mix of 3D pieces, video art, and more traditional art forms is marvelous to wander around. With some fantastic pieces by Bauhaus, De Krooning and others on show, there are over 700 artworks exhibited in this brilliant institution and it is a great place to head to when in Amsterdam.
11. NEMO Science Museum
A very popular museum, the science center is great for all ages and the interactive installations and exhibitions make it an entertaining and educational place to visit. Located in a modernist building designed by architect Renzo Piano – who also designed the distinctive Centre Pompidou in Paris – the contents of the museum explore a lot of different scientific fields.
With exhibitions on DNA, the human mind, the water cycle and more, visitors can act out experiments in the huge science lab; the hands-on approach is a lot of fun for the whole family. Located near to the city center, the NEMO Science Museum will never disappoint with all that there is to see and do.
10. Moco Museum
This new addition to Amsterdam’s museums is a fun and fresh place to visit. The contemporary artwork on exhibit is in stark contrast to what is displayed at most of the other museums in the city.
Dedicated to the new stars of the art world, the Moco Museum has an amazing display of Banksy pieces, and the temporary exhibitions from some of the finest artists in pop-art are always a delight. Small in size but not lacking in style, the museum is the perfect place to visit in passing – it shouldn’t take you too long to get around.
9. Museum of Bags and Purses
Located in a 1660’s canal house which used to house the mayor, fashion and design lovers will adore the Museum of Bags and Purses. The extensive collection features purses and handbags ranging from medieval times right up until the present-day and is the largest bag collection in the world.
With ever-changing exhibitions by contemporary designers, visitors can learn more about anything from modern design practices to what the future of bags might look like. Watch out when leaving the museum as the gift shop will surely prove too tempting for many bag lovers.
All about the Dutch resistance against the Nazis, the Amsterdams Verzetmuseum offers an interesting insight into life in Amsterdam under German occupation. With reconstructed neighborhoods and streets for you to explore, wandering around the exhibits is an interesting way to pass the time.
The displays vividly highlight how citizens resisted and rebelled against the brutality of the Nazis. Old posters, photos, and objects dating back to the Second World War make the experience more authentic and the museum will certainly interest history lovers and World War Two aficionados.
7. Body Worlds
A phenomenal exhibition unlike anything you have ever seen before, Body Worlds examines human bodies and attempts to show what makes us happy and how that, in turn, impacts our health.
Featuring dissected human bodies, the anatomical exhibition is fascinating and highlights such things as how our organs work and how diseases attack the body. While it may not be for the squeamish, Body Worlds is a unique experience that is a must-see in Amsterdam.
Set in the 17th Century canal house where Rembrandt used to live and paint his masterpieces, the museum dedicated to his works is lovely to wander around; it documents the life and times of the famous painter.
The house has been reconstructed to look as it did during the 17th Century and you really do feel like you have stepped back in time when you visit. With some of Rembrandt’s delightful drawings and etchings on display, as well as some fantastic paintings by some of his contemporaries, the Rembrandthuis Museum is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Amsterdam.
The National Maritime Museum – known in Dutch as Het Scheepvaartmuseum – is dedicated to the Netherlands’ rich maritime history and highlights how it came to shape Dutch culture. Appropriately surrounded by water, the museum has a replica of an 18th Century ship that visitors can enjoy exploring.
There are loads of interesting artifacts on show as well as some great maps, models, paintings, and weapons. With lots of fun and engaging exhibitions on display, it is a fascinating place to stop by and really will give you a new-found appreciation of just how influential the Netherlands was in shipping and sailing.
4. Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder
Remarkably opened all the way back in 1888, the Our Lord in the Attic Museum (as it is known in English) is set in a 17th Century canal house in the heart of Amsterdam. The top three floors of the building were once a clandestine Catholic church that was used by devout worshipers who were banned from practicing their religion in public.
The authorities, however, turned a blind eye to it and the exhibitions on show document the tolerance and freedom of religion that has generally always existed in the Netherlands. The church and the lavish rooms below it are well preserved and it is an amazing place to visit – quite unlike any other church you’ll ever see.
3. Anne Frank House
You will almost certainly notice the Anne Frank House museum before you arrive, as there is always a massive queue outside. As such, it is best to book tickets in advance to avoid the crowds. A fascinating place to visit, it is here that Anne Frank wrote her diary in the secret annex above the rest of the building.
Wandering around the wonderfully presented exhibitions in the typical Dutch canal house is a moving experience that is quite emotional at times, as you visit the attic where the family had to hide for all those years. Well worth queuing for, a tour of the Anne Frank House takes about an hour to complete.
Located in a stunning building that dominates Museum Square in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum is one of the most famous museums in the Netherlands and receives millions of visitors every year. The largest museum in the country reopened in 2013 after a ten-year renovation of the building, and it was well worth the wait; the interior, with all its gorgeous galleries, is now just as pretty as its exterior.
With over 8000 masterpieces exhibited, wandering around the enormous museum is mesmerizing, as famous works by Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Hals, and Vermeer look down at you. While there are lots of Golden Age paintings on display, the Rijksmuseum actually has works ranging from the 1200’s up to the 20th Century.
There is some lovely Asian art on show as well as some great models and costumes. Before heading to the museum, make sure to download the app which has fourteen themed tours; this will greatly improve your experience.
1. Van Gogh Museum
The most popular museum in the Netherlands, the Van Gogh Museum is a lovely place to visit. It is here that you’ll find the majority of the renowned painter’s most famous artworks on display.
With the largest collection of his paintings in the world, the museum takes you on a delightful journey through his achievements, with his popular ‘Sunflowers’ piece the undoubted highlight.
While the over 200 paintings on show are obviously the main attraction, the museum also delves into who Van Gogh was, looking at his drawings and letters to give you a better idea of the man behind the artist.
The fascinating collection is rounded off by other beautiful artworks by his friends, contemporaries and other seminal artists. With so much to see and do in this fantastic museum, you’re going to want to spend at least a few hours here taking it all in.