Museums with secret gardens in Amsterdam
Amsterdam comes alive when the sun is out, and the last thing most people want to do is be indoors. Luckily, many cultural institutions have some hidden open-air spaces, which are just as impressive as the galleries themselves. We've listed the museums with the most beautiful secret gardens and outdoor spaces in the city so you can get your arty fix and some Vitamin D in the process.
Located on the Keizersgracht, Huis Marseille has been established for over 20 years and was the first photography museum in Amsterdam. After marvelling at impressive photographic works spread through the luminous rooms of two 17th century canal houses, enjoy some sun in the quaint courtyard garden. When you’ve had your fill of fresh air, dive back into the collections or head into the speciality bookshop.
The Embassy of the Free Mind
Free thought is the ability to formulate one's ideas autonomously, without limits and regardless of religion, culture or age. This feeling is exactly what The Embassy wants to stimulate, hosting a great variety of exhibitions and a historic library where you can browse through an incredible book collection. When you’ve found one that appeals, nestle down in the colourful garden filled with wildflowers. What better way to free your mind on a sunny day than with a good read in the fresh air?
The Hermitage conceals the most extensive courtyard garden in the centre of Amsterdam, an oasis of calm where you are surrounded by art. The space used to be a bleachfield where laundry was left out to dry whilst the residents gardened and looked after the chickens. It's free to enter, and you can enjoy light refreshments, lunch or a glass of wine from the scenic terrace.
Museum van Loon
A historic canal house, a hidden courtyard garden and a slice of apple pie; you can't say no to that. Museum Van Loon was originally the home of Ferdinand Bol, a pupil of Rembrandt, and inside you’ll find portraits, paintings, silverware and porcelain from different centuries. Behind the house, the elegantly landscaped garden looks very much as it would have done in the 17th century - besides perhaps the scenic museum café, which is the perfect spot for a peaceful coffee.
With its infinite paintings by the Dutch masters, a huge library and a beautiful outdoor space, the Rijksmuseum just keeps on giving. Escape the hustle and bustle of the galleries for a while to soak in the garden scenery with its various flowers and plants, a fountain and a sculpture exhibition. See if you can also find the Fragmentengebouw (Fragment Building) and the former director's villa. What doesn't the Rijks have?
The Willet-Holthuysen Museum on Herengracht is a 17th-century mansion, once considered among the most prominent buildings in the city. Have a nose through the period rooms, including a ballroom, garden room and dining room, to see how the wealthy former owners lived life to the full. The garden is designed in French classical style with ornate statues, manicured hedges and gravel that has been sprinkled into a work of art in itself. Take a seat on one of the benches, enjoy the sun and imagine yourself in a fairy tale.
NEMO Science Museum
NEMO doesn’t technically have a garden, but the spectacular roof terrace with breathtaking views of the city is at least as much fun. Architect Renzo Piano attempted to replicate the vibe of an actual city square, complete with a cafe terrace and water sculpture where children can play to their hearts' content. Learn about the natural elements and sustainable energy at the open-air exhibition Energetica and marvel as 4000 litres of water flow through 30 water tanks.
The National Maritime Museum
Another great way to blow the cobwebs away after spending time inside is to clamber aboard the VOC ship docked outside the National Maritime Museum. After learning about the sea-faring history of the Netherlands indoors, explore this incredible vessel to see how the crew slept and worked. All boat fanatics and families with adventurous children will be truly taken by the opportunity to inspect the cannons up close as you take in the salty sea air.
Step out of the Moco Museum and into the playful garden filled with various art contemporary pieces. Perfect for capturing on camera, these incredible works are best described as magical sculptures. Admire the enormous red gummy bear by Whisbe or Fidia's 'Freaky Mouse'. The garden regularly changes the artworks on display, so there’ll always be something inspiring and new to see each time you return.