The Seven Sees: Amsterdam Museums

Amsterdam is quite possibly the most interesting city in the world.  It is well known for having a wild side and a romantic side.  It is also home to some of the best museums in the world. Amsterdam has long been a center of culture, especially of the artistic nature.  The Dutch Masters as they have been called, pioneered a Golden Age of painting in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The result is an embarrassment of artistic riches showcased all over the city.  Combined with a unique history and the subculture’s that have thrived, Amsterdam has amassed an impressive lineup of museums.  Picking seven only scratches the surface of what you can experience in this mesmerizing city.

Rijksmuseum

Quite simply one of the best art museums in the world.  After moving a few times, it finally landed in Amsterdam in 1808.  Notable works housed inside come from Dutch Masters Rembrandt, Frans Hal, Jacob van Ruisdael, Johannes Vermeer as well as Vincent Van Gogh.

The museum can get quite crowded as it draws over 2 million visitors per year.  Chances are if you only see one museum in Amsterdam, this is probably it.

Van Gogh Museum

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists to have ever picked up a brush and therefore a museum dedicated to him is quite popular.  The Van Gogh museum holds the largest collection of his works in the world including some of his greatest such as Sunflowers and Wheatfield with Crows.

In addition to his paintings, visitors are able to view drawings and letters.  It tells the entire story of the troubled artist’s life including the infamous incident with his ear and his suicide. Van Gogh fans will absolutely love it and those with only a casual understanding will gain a great insight into his life as well as come to appreciate his art in a deeper manner.

Anne Frank House

The house where Anne Frank hid for more than two years and wrote her famous diary is a located near the Westerkerk.  Visitors are given a somber tour of the Frank family’s hiding place and the history surrounding the publication of the diary.  The only member of the family who survived the war was Anne’s father Otto.

Tickets are very hard to come by and sell out months in advance.  You may also stand in line for day of tickets, but expect to wait in line for hours most of the time.  If you do decide to try and get standby ticket’s the best tip is to go late in the day.

Stedelijk Museum

Amsterdam’s modern art museum is one of the best in the world and well worth a visit to see a more contemporary view of art.  The museum covers various movements of the late 19th Century to present and showcases paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography, moving images, posters, sound and even interior design.

Among the artists you can see include, Van Gogh, Picasso, Marlene Dumas, Andy Warhol and many many more.  The Stedelijk Museum is a fascinating and excellent look at art in its modern form.

National Maritime Museum

The Dutch are some of the worlds great shippers and no museum tells the story of their history on the sea better than the Maritime Museum.  You enter through a courtyard covered by glass and head off into different wings.  Interactive exhibits take you into various aspects of sea life as you walk through Dutch maritime history.

The highlight is a full size replica of the Dutch East India Company’s “Amsterdam” ship.  You can board the ship and walk around to see what life on the sea was like in the 1700’s.

Amsterdam Museum

The city of Amsterdam has a compelling history.  No museum tells it better than the Amsterdam Museum.  Interactive exhibits put visitors into the committee meetings as the city leaders meticulously master planned the city over the years. It also addresses some of the cultural aspects of Amsterdam life including prostitution.

Statues representing Rembrandt’s Night Watch stand near Rembrandt’s House

Rembrandt House Museum

The home of the Dutch Master Rembrandt has been restored and transports visitors back to the time when he lived.  There are various paintings, etchings, and drawings throughout the house. You can tour his living quarters as well as his workshop.  Live demonstrations are given throughout the day in different sections of the house.

Rembrandt enjoyed great success while in his house including the painting of his masterpiece Night Watch, but also heartache.  Three of his four children died months after being born and his wife also died shortly after his lone surviving son was born.  Rembrandt went bankrupt and was forced to give up the house in 1658.

Getting to Amsterdam and Museum Tips

Amsterdam is the largest city in The Netherlands.  It is serviced by Schiphol Airport.  If you are already in Europe arriving by train is easy.  It is a little over 3 hours from Paris, 4 hours from Frankfurt, and under 2 hours from Brussels.

If you plan on visiting museums in Amsterdam it pays to get an IAmsterdam Card, which includes admission to many of museums as well as local transport.  You can get a 24 hour, 48 hour or 72 hour card.  Not included with the IAmsterdam Card is the Anne Frank House and the Rijksmuseum only provides a discount on admission.  However it allows you to visit many of the other museums not featured here.

 

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