During its “Golden Age” (1585 – 1672), Amsterdam was the undisputed jewel in the crown of Europe. As the leading financial center of the world, Amsterdam set the tone and style of European art for nearly two centuries, which is the long way of saying if art grabs your fancy (or even if you’re a casual admirer), you can’t beat Amsterdam for its sheer volume and variety of museums.
Whether you’re into gorgeous photography, punky pop-art, “Golden Age” masterpieces or the world’s largest collection of handbags (yes, that’s a thing), you can’t go wrong in Amsterdam. To get you in the mood, here are 7 “Must See” Museums in Amsterdam.
1. Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum)
If climbing aboard a 700-tonne replica of the Dutch East India Company’s largest ship Amsterdam, doesn’t rouse your sense of adventure, pouring over Golden Age maps of the world and 19th century photo albums of early voyages certainly will. You may even get to mock-fire a cannon or two…
Curious to take a peek at how the extremely wealthy once lived in Amsterdam? The Museum Van Loon (built in 1672) was originally inhabited by the painter Ferdinand Bol, who studied under none other than Rembrandt himself. The house was bought in 1884 by the Van Loon family who co-founded a little company called the VOC (aka The Dutch East India Company).
The family still lives in the top floors of the building but have graciously opened the bottom floors to the public so that visitors can swan through its beautiful gardens and luxurious rooms, lost in a world of Golden Age art, furnishings and romance.
Perhaps one of the most famous diaries ever written, Anne Frank’s story is one of incredible courage and strength of character in the face of unimaginable hardship. For this reason, if you’re interested in visiting the hugely popular Anne Frank House, you’ll need to book online two months ahead of your planned visit. It’s an emotional journey, but well worth it as a poignant reminder of how far we’ve come from the days of Nazi occupation.
What is there to say about this epic museum that hasn’t been said countless times before? With over 8,000 masterworks displayed along with rich costumes, Asian art and model ships the newly-refurbed Rijksmuseum takes you on a jaw-dropping journey from the Middle Ages to Mondrain. Grab the museum app for mobile here to enhance the experience and make the best of your visit.
The “gorgeous photography” we mentioned at the start of this piece? Yeah, you’ll find it in spades at Foam. With exhibitions from global superstar photographers happening on a regular basis, many have hailed Foam as one of Europe’s most exhilarating celebrations of the artform that is photography. Prepare to have your mind blown!
For an artist who is rumored to have only ever sold one painting during his lifetime, Van Gogh has become entrenched in our collective unconscious as one of the greatest artists to have ever lived. Some of his best works, including “The Potato Eaters”. “Sunflowers”, and “Wheatfield With Crows” are on display at the Van Gogh Museum as well as drawings and letters that invite us into the mind of the world’s greatest post-impressionist painter.
7. Moco Museum
If it’s new-school “art world rock stars” you’re into, stop by the newly-opened Moco Museum for a healthy dose of Banksy and his contemporaries. It’s situated in the stunning Villa Alsberg and having featured exhibitions by Roy Lichtenstein, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol in the past, you can bet the future is looking bright for this young upstart.