Amsterdam is a city with more than seventy-five museums that attract millions of visitors from all over the world every year. The numerous sites cover subjects as diverse as art, science, history and maritime tradition. In addition, there are museums that are considered to be fun-filled attractions such as Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, The Upside Down Museum and NEMO, the science museum designed by Renzo Piano and especially popular with children and young people.
If you want to visit the city’s most famous museums, then you have to go to the Museumkwartier district, which is home to the Museumplein, or Museum Square. Here, in fact, you will find three important picture galleries, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum, but also the Concertgebouw concert hall that is very popular with classical music lovers.
Another very famous museum not to be missed is undoubtedly the Anne Frank House followed by a visit to the Jewish Historical Museum. Beer lovers, and not only, on the other hand, cannot miss the Heineken Experience, a tour that allows you to learn about the history of this famous beer brand that few know has Dutch origins.
An unmissable stop during a trip to Amsterdam is the Van Gogh Museum, a site with the world’s largest collection of works by the Dutch artist considered a true genius of art. In order to help visitors discover more about the life and creations of Vincent Van Gogh (1853 -1890), the museum offers a tour that displays not only his works but also sketches, drawings and numerous letters.
Inaugurated on 3 June 1973, the museum currently houses almost 200 paintings, more than 500 drawings and watercolours and his correspondence with other painters of his time such as Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin. His works were only considered masterpieces after his death and Van Gogh, who suffered from mental disorders for a long time, died (possibly by suicide) in France at the age of 37. Among the most famous creations in this museum are The Potato Eaters, Still Life with Bible, Vincent’s Room in Arles, Almond Blossom and The Sower.
On the famous Museumplein square, besides the Van Gogh Museum, there is also the Rijksmuseum, which simply means ‘National Museum’ in Dutch. Within this site, you will find a broad overview of Dutch art history with a special focus on paintings from the so-called ‘Dutch Golden Age‘, which runs roughly from the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 18th century. This museum site was originally opened in The Hague in the 19th century, but was later transferred to Amsterdam at the behest of Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte.
After a lengthy renovation in the early 2000s, the Rijksmuseum houses more than 8,000 works in numerous galleries as well as various Delft ceramics, historical documents and other exhibits. Among the most famous artists exhibited here are Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Geertgen tot Sint Jans and Barthélemy d’Eyck.
Another very famous site in Amsterdam is undoubtedly the Anne Frank House, in Dutch ‘Anne Frank Huis’, which became a museum in the 1960s to tell the story of the extermination pursued by the Nazis also in the capital. The ‘Anne Frank House’, in fact, was the hiding place where the Jewish families Frank, Van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer, remained hidden during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. In this small hiding place behind a revolving bookcase, these families lived for two years, which Anna recounted in her famous diary.
Unfortunately, the secret refuge was discovered on 4 August 1944 by the Germans and all the occupants were deported to various concentration camps. The visit is very moving as the environment inside the hiding place has been reconstructed just as it was then and on display are documents from the time, historical films, photographs, personal items and Anna’s famous diary.
In the Museum Quarter of Amsterdam, a new complex called MoCo, which stands for Modern Contemporary Museum, opened in 2016. Unlike the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, which present an in-depth overview of classic Dutch artists, the MoCo tells the story of art from a different and unprecedented point of view. In particular, one area of the site, known as Moco Masters, houses a permanent collection of masterpieces by famous modern and contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiart, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Keith Haring.
Another section is dedicated to temporary exhibitions and hosts often peculiar, surprising and irreverent creations at different times of the year. One of the most famous exhibitions shown here was that of British street artist Banksy, which was entitled ‘Banksy Laugh Now’. Other highly successful exhibitions were those dedicated to Daniel Arsham, Yayoi Kusama, Icy & Sor and Roy Lichtenstein. Also in the outdoor garden, the museum tour continues with displays of works by great contemporary creators such as KAWS, WhIsBe, Fidia and Marcel Wanders.
Whether or not you are a beer fan, a visit to the Heineken Experience is a stop not to be missed during a stay in Amsterdam. Heineken, undoubtedly one of the most famous beers in the world, originated in Amsterdam and is still largely brewed there. This is why the site of the first Heineken brewery has been converted into an interactive museum that allows visitors to learn about the history of the Heineken family, the birth of the famous beer and the production process, from the selection of ingredients to the bottling.
The tour is designed as an interactive and immersive journey in which all of the visitors’ senses are involved for a truly unique experience! At the end of the tour visitors are also invited to a beer tasting. To access the Heineken Experience you need to buy tickets online and it is best to do this in advance if you want to find space in your dates as it is one of the most visited attractions in the capital.
Also in the centre of Amsterdam not far from the Royal Palace is Madame Tussauds, one of the most popular wax museums in the world. The origins of this museum are linked to the French artist Marie Tussauds, stage name of Marie Grosholtz (1761 – 1850), a woman who loved to make wax reproductions of leading figures of the French Revolution. By the time of her death, Marie had made almost 400 wax works and the idea was born to exhibit these artefacts in a first Wax Museum that was opened in London.
Now you can find numerous locations of this museum around the world, including one in Amsterdam where reproductions of famous figures from the present and the past are displayed. Alongside historical figures are actors, musicians, sportsmen, entrepreneurs and personalities from current political life. Among the most famous personalities besides the Dutch royal family are Dali, Picasso, Rembrandt, Messi, David Beckham, Lady Gaga and George Clooney.
The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis in Dutch) is a complex located in the central Dam Square and was built in neoclassical style in 1665 to house the city hall. In 1808 with the accession to the throne of Louis Napoleon, who was proclaimed King of the Netherlands, the building was transformed into a luxurious court residence and since then, several renovations have been carried out on the building. The structure and furnishings of this majestic palace are an example of the prosperity that marked the city of Amsterdam during that historical period.
Now the palace is no longer the residence of the Dutch royal family and is only used for official state ceremonies. The Royal Palace can be visited and the proposed tour allows you to discover elegantly furnished rooms and galleries that hold chandeliers, original tapestries and precious works of art. The most important room of the visit is undoubtedly the Civic Hall (Burgerzaal) , which stands in the centre of the building and houses marble floors with inlaid maps of the eastern and western hemisphere and a statue representing the city of Amsterdam.
Not far from the Van Gogh Museum is also the Stedelijk Museum (literally the Urban Museum) which exhibits modern and contemporary art and design. In 1874, a group of private Dutch citizens decided to pool their private collections with the aim of contributing to the spread of modern art in the country. In the beginning, the works were exhibited at the Rijksmuseum but then in 1895 they were moved to a new building designed by Adriaan Willem Weissman, one of the city’s best-known architects.
At the time, the Stedelijk also included older works by Dutch and French painters but then, from around 1920, the present collection was revised by dedicating the site to modern and contemporary art only. The permanent collection of the Stedelijk Museum now comprises more than 90,000 items including objects, design pieces, posters and works ranging from 1850 to the present day. Of particular note are an extensive collection of paintings by Kazimir Severinovič Malevič, a room painted by Karel Appel and the only work in a European museum by the Venezuelan painter Armando Julio Reverón Travieso (1889 – 1954).
Conceived by the famous architect Renzo Piano, Nemo (or New Metropolis) is one of Amsterdam’s most interesting museums and is popular with children and adults alike. In fact, it was originally designed for children and young people from 6 to 16 years old, who can experience numerous activities such as giant soap bubbles, shows, chemistry, music and video workshops and much more.
Packed with interactive attractions, Nemo is considered the largest science centre in the Netherlands. Even from the outside, the complex is striking in its majesty, as it looks like a copper-green building reminiscent of a ship ready to set sail. In addition, in summer a large terrace is set up on the roof of the Nemo, offering splendid views of the city.
For a few hours of pure fun, with family or friends, theUpside Down Museum is definitely the place to be, especially for those who love unusual museums! The museum covers 1,500 square metres and houses approximately 25 settings, all linked by the theme ‘the new Holland‘, which can only be discovered ‘upside down’ as they are designed to make visitors believe they are upside down. The aim of the site, which opened in 2020, is to tell the story of contemporary modern Holland in a fun and unusual way in order to break away from the widespread stereotype that links this nation only to objects such as clogs and mills.
This route, therefore, allows you to explore contemporary Dutch culture in a fun and unusual way by passing through special environments such as a Dutch underground car, a ‘silent’ disco, a private airplane and many other interactive experiences. After a lot of fun, you can relax at a café where the famous freakshake is served and take some time to share this wonderful experience on social media.
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