Amsterdam is a city with a history that has largely impacted its culture today. As old as it is, there are many museums that preserve this history as much as they can. They cover a variety of themes and topics, so you’re bound to find at least one that interests you.
Among these many museums, there are five that are definitely worth a visit, whether or not you’re an expert on history or art.
Anne Frank House
Anne Frank’s story is one of the most impactful narratives from World War II, coming from a young teenage girl on the verge of self-discovery when she’s forced into hiding with her family. The Anne Frank House takes you into her world, into the tiny apartment attic where she and her family lived for many months. Being in this space adds another layer of emotional depth to her story that you can’t find by simply reading her diary. If you’re planning to go to Amsterdam, be sure to book tickets to the Anne Frank House months in advance; it books up fast, but the popularity of the house doesn’t make visiting it any less worthwhile.
For more information: www.annefrank.org/en/
Rijksmuseum is one of the largest museums in Amsterdam. As a result, it has galleries showcasing a wide range of art and artifacts, stretching way back to the Middle Ages. It features artwork from famous Dutch artists such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh and a range of historical artifacts that trace Dutch history. But the historical items within the walls of the Rijksmuseum aren’t the only reason to visit; the creation of the massive building is incredibly interesting as well and exploring it is all part of the experience. They also have a large gift shop fully stocked with souvenir options.
For more information: www.rijksmuseum.nl/en
Van Gogh Museum
Looking at some of Van Gogh’s masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum is just a taste of his art. The Van Gogh Museum is just across Museumplein (Museum Square), and traces Van Gogh’s life as an artist. The exhibit, which covers numerous floors, takes a closer look at his relationships with friends and family and the struggles he faced that ultimately led to the infamous act of cutting off his ear. With the audio guide, you can get a better idea of his thought process while admiring pieces of artwork. The exhibit features some of his most iconic works, such as Sunflowers and Self-Portrait as a Painter. In the gift shop, you can find his art on a variety of items.
For more information: www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en
For people who might not appreciate ancient art and history, Moco Museum features modern art. The museum is set in an old house (also in Museumplein), making it more intimate. Banksy is one of the main features in Moco, with his controversial art pieces that deride capitalism. It also features many other contemporary artists and has some very different multimedia exhibits. Be sure to read the background on each piece within the galleries, because they all have deep meanings that provide different perspectives on society. From the gift shop, get a wish pin to add to ‘Portrait’ in the Moco Garden!
For more information: mocomuseum.com/
Het Scheepvaart (National Maritime Museum)
The Netherlands is largely impacted by their proximity to the ocean and it has defined much of their history and still does today. The National Maritime Museum traces its naval history over the last 500 years and has some incredible collections of historical objects used at sea, including ancient (and inaccurate) maps. They have many interactive exhibits that can engage people of all ages and interests. One of the most impressive parts of this museum is its full-size replica of an 18th-century ship docked in the harbor. Visitors are able to explore the interior of it as well for a fully immersive experience.
For more information: www.hetscheepvaartmuseum.com/