A must-visit for classical art-lovers, this museum has an impressive collection from the 800-year time period between 1200–2000, with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer on display. The building itself is a triumph Dutch architecture, in a majestic blend of Gothic and the Renaissance styles, and it is the only museum in the world that you can cycle through.
- Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch
- Cuypers Library, the biggest and oldest art history library in the Netherlands, with a beautiful spiral staircase that begs to be photographed
- A collection of dolls' houses that shows life in the 17th century
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
A stone’s throw from the Rijksmuseum, this modern art museum displays 90,000 works from the early 20th and 21st century. Expect pieces by Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, Gerrit Rietveld, Nola Hatterman, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, Karel Appel, Andy Warhol and more. The 2012 renovation added a new wing that’s dubbed “the bathtub” by locals because it looks like a giant, shiny-white bathtub plopped smack in Museumplein.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam highlights
- Composition No. IV With Red, Blue and Yellow by Piet Mondrian
- Jacqueline Kennedy II by Andy Warhol
- 700 pieces strong, the “Stedelijk Base” permanent exhibition brings together paintings, furniture, jewelry, sculptures, everyday objects, accessories, photography, drawings, installations, video art, posters, and interiors into one amazing integrated experience
Van Gogh Museum
All things Vincent van Gogh
Truly a must-visit for Van Gogh fans, here you’ll find the largest collection of his work in the world with 200 of his paintings, 400 drawings and 700 letters. In addition to the curation of Van Gogh’s masterpieces, there are also rotating exhibitions and works by his contemporaries including Monet and Pissarro and later artists who were inspired by Van Gogh, including Steven Aalders and Zeng Fanzhi. This sleek museum is also on Museumplein, alongside the Stedelijk and the Rijksmuseum, but don’t try to fit visit all three in a single day; there is simply too much to see.
Van Gogh Museum highlights
- The Potato Eaters, Vincent van Gogh
- The Bedroom, Vincent van Gogh
- Tulip Fields near The Hague, Claude Monet
Van Gogh Museum | Museumplein 6 | €19
Anne Frank House
A window into a life in hiding during World War II
Step into the pages of The Diary of Anne Frank by exploring the house where 13-year-old Frank hid with her family for two years during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Opened in 1960, this museum on Prinsengracht preserves the annex where they lived and showcases objects, photographs and historical documents from the time, piecing together a moving narrative of the events that took place.
Anne Frank House highlights
- Anne Frank’s original red-checked diary
- Exploring the beautiful house on Prinsengracht and seeing the meticulously preserved annex where Anne lived
- Hinged bookcase that led the way to the secret annex
Anne Frank House | Westermarkt 20 | €10.50
Russian and Dutch art and artefacts
Get a taste of Russian refinement right in the heart of Amsterdam. The Hermitage Amsterdam is a satellite of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and displays a rotating selection of work from the Russian grand dame’s permanent collection.The relationship between the two museums highlights the historical links between Amsterdam and Russia, dating back to Tsar Peter the Great’s visit to the Netherlands at the end of the 17th century. Exhibitions range from the classic Dutch ensemble paintings in “Portrait Gallery of the 17th Century” to “Jewels!”, a glittering assortment of Russian gems, bracelets and baubles.
- The riverfront building itself, the Amstelhof, was built 1682 as a retirement home and now houses the Hermitage Amsterdam
- The church hall and historically reconstructed rooms in The Amsterdam Wing
- Rotating exhibitions from the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg in the Hermitage Wing
History of Amsterdam
Set in a former orphanage, this museum will give you an engaging overview of Amsterdam’s origin story. Its curation of art, household items, books, ancient artefacts, journals and reference papers, interactive displays and multimedia exhibits chronicles how this 1000-year-old trading city has maintained its culture of creativity and free-thinking through the millenia.
Amsterdam Museum highlights
- “The Little Orphanage” is an interactive exhibit for kids and families that shows what life was like in a 17th-century orphanage
- The “World - City” permanent exhibition explores Amsterdam’s relationship with the rest of the world
- An aerial map of Amsterdam that dates back to the Middle Ages
NEMO Science Museum
Kid-centric science and fun
NEMO Science Museum invites families to interact with science and technology in an informal and engaging setting. The five-story building itself is a landmark on the Oosterdok, jutting out of the water like the hull of a copper-green ship. The 19,000 artefacts show how technology has developed over the years, in an anthology of the first electrical home appliances and everything from the parlograph to the Walkman.
NEMO Science Museum highlights
- The outdoor roof terrace atop the building where you’ll find a stunning view of Amsterdam, a lovely restaurant and the open-air “Energetica” exhibition with interactive sculptures and a cascading water feature
- The Maker’s Space, open on Wednesdays and weekends, where you can make your own machines and creations
- “Sensational Science” exhibition helps kids unravel the mysteries of everyday physics in action through fun experiments like blowing giant bubbles and making rainbows
National Maritime Museum
A walk through the Netherlands’ maritime history
The Maritime Museum has endless entertainment for sea-faring families. On a swashbuckling tour of the East Indiaman Amsterdam ship, Rinus the Rat guides visitors through firing a cannon, scuttling through the hold and other hands-on activities that will give you an idea of what life was like aboard the real 18th-century ship all those years ago. The museums collection of 400,000 maritime objects, including, paintings, models of ships, navigation instruments, and maps of the world, is one of the largest in the world.
National Maritime Museum highlights
- A life-size replica of the 1749 VOC East Indiaman ship, the Amsterdam, is docked directly in front of the museum for visitors to explore
- “Maps & Marvels” shows how 17th-century Dutch sailors navigated the seas and how their travels impacted the Netherlands and the world at large
- In the main hall, the “Republic at Sea” exhibition displays more than 50 masterpieces that demonstrate the Netherlands’s history as a maritime nation
Archive of seminal Dutch and foreign films screened in the Netherlands
A landmark on the IJ, Eye Filmmuseum is an architectural wonder, designed to play with light, space, and movement in much the same way as film. Inside the slick, multi-faceted white structure is an impressive complication of movie posts, project equipment, almost 40,000 films and other objects that reflect Dutch film culture. The four intimate cinemas onsite screen both blockbusters and limited-release art-house films that are hard to find elsewhere in the country.
Eye Filmmuseum highlights
- The a panoramic cafe-restaurant has a jaw-dropping view over the IJ
- An homage to film history, the permanent “Panorama” exhibition showcases film devices that were pivotal in the history of cinema
- Daily movie screenings in four cosy cinemas
This stylish address on Keizersgracht is dedicated to photography. Using a mix of exhibitions, publications, debates and educational projects, its mission is to inform and involve the community in the world of contemporary photography, with displays organised by categories including documentary, art and fashion. You’ll find historic works by world-famous photographers hanging alongside modern shots by emerging artists.
- FOAM Magazine, which is published three times a year around a specific theme
- Foam 3h, a programme focussed on exhibiting the work of recently graduated artists and photographers
- Free tours of the exhibitions led in English every Thursday evening at 19:30
Rembrandt House Museum
Rembrandt’s former home and studio
In this space that Rembrandt called home for 20 years, you’ll see exhibitions about the iconic Dutch master, his predecessors, contemporaries and pupils. The house itself has been carefully restored to its 17th-century glory, decorated with furniture and objects from that time. Walking through its rooms provides a rare glimpse into the life of the great artist.
Rembrandt House highlights
- The collection of more than 290 etchings by Rembrandt
- Studios where Rembrandt painted some of his most famous pieces
- Hands-on demonstrations and workshops where you can learn about the materials Rembrandt used to create art
The architecture alone in this spectacular building makes it worth a visit. It took almost 10 years to build and was officially opened in 1926 by Queen Wilhelmina. The central atrium affords an expansive, light-drenched view of the museum’s various floors and exhibits. The permanent collection is an exploration of culture, where visitors can peruse beautiful artefacts from all over the world, each with its own story to tell.
- Tropenmuseum Junior, where kids can explore interactive exhibitions
- The “Things That Matter” permanent exhibition that considers themes that connect people across borders
- “Afterlives of Slavery” permanent exhibition, bringing to light the history of slavery and its modern day repercussions
Don't forget to search the ongoing and upcoming exhibitions in Amsterdam, or to explore some of the city's smaller and quirkier – but no less enchanting – museum treasures.