Art and culture in De Plantage
De Plantage has an impressive concentration of theatres, galleries and creative hotspots crammed into a small area, making this garden district perfect for an afternoon or evening of culture hopping. Highlights include some of Amsterdam’s most highly rated art and history museums, a radical cinema and some absolutely stunning settings to experience classical music, jazz, ballet or comedy.
Jewish Cultural Quarter
The Jewish Cultural Quarter (JCK) was a neighbourhood where many Jewish Amsterdammers once lived. Today a rich cultural history is still visible, and you’ll find various monuments, memorials and museums within a few steps from each other. The Jewish Museum is a beautiful and prominent museum, located in four monumental synagogues which give a multifaceted picture of Dutch Jewish life – including at the interactive Children’s Museum. Dating back to 1675, the Portuguese Synagogue is one of the world’s largest synagogues and houses Ets Haim, the oldest active Jewish library in the world. Nearby, you’ll find the grand Hollandsche Schouwburg and The National Holocaust Memorial of Names, which consists of 102,000 bricks bearing the names and dates of birth and death of those deported from the Netherlands and murdered during World War II.
Amsterdam Museum on the Amstel
Now at its new temporary location in The Hermitage, Amsterdam Museum on the Amstel reveals a multifaceted insight into the Dutch capital, from its 16th-century genesis to its imagined future. Discover the genesis of the city in Amsterdam DNA or view one of the temporary exhibitions.
Established in 1945, this dynamic student-run movie theatre emerged from the resistance movement of WWII after its founders had dropped out of university and become involved in hiding Jewish children from Nazi persecution. Today, Kriterion is still a student association and meeting place; the cafe attracts an eclectic crowd of film buffs nattering about movies and social causes over beers and peanuts. Along with screenings of progressive art-house films and the more interesting Hollywood flicks, you can also catch sneak-previews, exhibitions, talks and festival events so don’t forget to dust off your debating hat.
Rembrandt House Museum
Rembrandt House is a beautifully restored townhouse just off the Waterlooplein that captures the far-reaching legacy of Rembrandt van Rijn. The legendary painter lived here for several decades when he was at the height of his career, and the museum provides a multifaceted insight into his life and work. See where he created many of his most famous works in the studio, admire a large display of original etchings and explore the living quarters for a glimpse into his everyday life. The programming is regularly rotated with exhibitions that expand upon 17th-century themes.
Royal Theatre Carré
Whether you want low-brow chuckles or to be wowed by theatre, opera and dance, you’ll absolutely find something to raise a smile in the diverse programming of Royal Theatre Carré. For over a century, this historic venue has attracted massive stars from internationally acclaimed comedians and musicians to some of the country’s most noteworthy cabaret acts and variety shows. The glitter and glamour rolls over into the festive season when the theatre hosts the famous World Christmas Circus. Complete your evening out with a drink in the lavish foyers or by dining in one of the two restaurants.
Although smaller than its namesake in Saint Petersburg, the Hermitage Amsterdam ought to be on everyone’s cultural bucket list, Russian-history buff or not. The building spent the first three centuries of its life as a home for the elderly, and extensive renovation since then has turned it into an architectural beauty, without taking away any of its history. You can relive that story in one of the museum’s two permanent exhibitions, the other being a room dedicated to Dutch-Russian relations.
Museum of the Mind | Outsider Art
The Museum van de Geest (Museum of the Mind | Outsider Art) is an intriguing museum spread over two locations, with one exhibition space in Haarlem and the other in a wing of the Hermitage. The museum celebrates work by so-called ‘outsider’ artists of the last century whose practices have developed beyond the influence of the mainstream art world and do not fit into the traditional canon. The display changes twice a year and there are always unique and challenging pieces to engage with. Previous exhibitions have showcased artists working in unconventional mediums like crochet, spoken-word, photography and illustration.
National Opera & Ballet
It's a treat to catch a performance at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet. Between the exquisite artistry, innovative productions, dazzling sets and costumes, an evening here will surely be the highlight of your trip. Companies from across the Netherlands and abroad are invited to put on their productions here and the schedule is usually extensive. If you’re here early enough to attend the season's opening Gala, it's well worth packing your black tie.
Hotel Droog's programme is at the forefront of Amsterdam's art and design scene and the entire building (including the Fairy Tale garden) is open to the public. Inside you’ll find a multitude of conceptual spaces and meeting rooms all beautifully illuminated by high windows where artists and designers mix and mingle. There is always an exhibition on with regular artist talks and debates you can participate in. Alternatively pop in just to admire the stunning interiors and have a bite to eat in the cafe overlooking the canals.
The elegant period rooms and rich art collections of the Luther Museum tell the story of the Lutheran congregation in Amsterdam. Learn about the important role women have played in the church as well as contemporary efforts to support immigrants, the poor and the LGBTQ community. In the impressive church hall you can watch classical music concerts and piano recitals with spectacular acoustics, and the museum provides the starting point for some fascinating guided walking tours through the city centre.
Our House is dedicated to everything to do with electronic music, focusing on the genesis, culture and subcultures of the genre that is so connected to Amsterdam. See the music come to life through six exhibitions and fifteen installations. And as befits a real house party, a visit to Our House ends with a blast of a final show.
Jazz at the Plantage
Every summer, music by some of the city’s finest jazz musicians wafts through the air of Amsterdam’s pleasure gardens. Jazz at the Plantage is an annual festival showcasing some of the most exciting young talents from the city’s music academy. The programme plays out through a series of open-air concerts performed on the orangery terrace in the Hortus botanical gardens and in the courtyard of the Hermitage. These intimate performances are not to be missed and are a magical way to unwind on a weekend afternoon.