Amsterdam, the 17th century capital city of the Netherlands, is on many people’s bucket lists. And that’s not really surprising because Amsterdam is an impressive city with countless things to see and to do.
One of the best things about Amsterdam are its museums. The city is home to over 50 museums. Some of the world’s most famous art museums are located right here.
In this article, we cover 12 of the best museums in Amsterdam. We will introduce you to some must-visit museums to hidden gems to to learn history, admire art, or simply have a great time. Let’s dive right in.
Time spent in a museum is time well spent, and in Amsterdam, there are plenty of museums from which to choose.
1. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is the national museum of the Netherlands. So if you want to know about Dutch art and history, approximately 800 years’ worth, this should be your first stop. The museum was first established in The Hague in the late 18th century; it was moved to Amsterdam in 1808 and then moved again to its current location in 1885.
The Rijksmuseum showcases about 8,000 objects spread across 80 rooms so you can spend anywhere from three hours to a whole day here. Highlights are of course The Night Watch by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, The Milkmaid by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer, the Delft Blue pottery collection, and more.
Read our article for more Rijksmuseum travel tips here.
2. Van Gogh Museum
Vincent van Gogh, a 19th century Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, is known equally for his art and his life story as a struggling artist suffering from severe depression. During his lifetime, Van Gogh only sold one painting. Today, the Van Gogh Museum receives about 2 million visitors each year.
The museum showcases hundreds of paintings, drawings, and written documents. The majority is of course by Van Gogh but there are also works by other painters who were either his friends or artists influenced by him. Museum highlights are the Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, the collection of Van Gogh self-portraits, and more.
Read our article for more Van Gogh Museum travel tips here.
3. Anne Frank House
Young Anne Frank is without a doubt one of the most widely discussed Jewish Holocaust victims. The Anne Frank House is the place where she and her family hid during WWII and where she wrote her famous diary. The museum gives visitors a glimpse of how the Franks lived while hiding and features Anne’s original diary.
Read our article for more Anne Frank House travel tips here.
4. Amsterdam Cheese Museum
Just a 5-minute walk from the Anne Frank House is the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. It’s small but it’s dedicated to all things related to Dutch cheese so if you don’t have much time, it’s the perfect place to learn about Dutch cheese—and buy some.
5. Amsterdam Museum
As you might expect, Amsterdam Museum showcases the rich history of Amsterdam city, from the Middle Ages up to the present day. Situated in a former orphanage that dates back to the 16th century, Amsterdam Museum tells the history of the Dutch capital via archeological artifacts and interactive displays, making it a great destination for adults and kids alike.
In addition to its permanent collection of paintings, photographs, and various items, numerous exhibitions are held throughout the year so please do check their calendar to know what’s on.
Our Tip: If you’re pressed for time during your visit, go for the Amsterdam DNA tour, a summarized multimedia presentation about Amsterdam that lasts about an hour.
6. The Rembrandt House Museum
If Rembrandt van Rijn’s world-famous The Night Watch moved you, it’s natural to want to learn more about the Master himself. Visitors to The Rembrandt House Museum can admire his artworks and learn about his painting techniques while touring his former residence.
Rembrandt lived in the exact premises for nearly two decades in the 17th century. When he was declared bankrupt in 1656, a list of his items was created for auction purposes. This same list was used to recreate the current historic house and art museum. As such, a visit to the Rembrandt House Museum feels just like visiting the Master himself at home.
7. Moco Museum
The MoCo Museum (Modern Contemporary Museum) is a treat for anyone into modern and contemporary art. The museum is situated inside Villa Alsberg, a 1904 townhouse in the middle of Amsterdam Museumplein. The townhouse was designed by renowned Dutch architect Eduard Cuypers, so the building itself is a sight to behold. What’s inside the museum, however, keeps changing.
MoCo Museum founders wanted a place that would make art by both high-profile and rising artists accessible to everyone. As such, exhibits by artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and art activist Banksy may be on rotation with lesser-known (but not lesser-talented) artists.
8. NEMO Science Museum
The NEMO Science Museum is a place dedicated to science and technology. The building alone, by Italian architect and engineer, Renzo Piano, looks like a futuristic boat emerging from nowhere. In reality, it’s a blue-green structure that sits on top of an Amsterdam tunnel!
Other museums are all about feeding your visual senses. The NEMO, however, spread over five floors, dares visitors to engage ALL their senses by encouraging them to ‘touch everything’.
The exhibitions at NEMO have different science themes such as Science through the Ages, which covers scientific discovers over the past centuries, Water Power, which teaches how dams are built and how water is used for energy, World of Shapes, an interactive exhibit showcasing how math has a hand in everything around us, and many more.
9. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
If you’re a fan of modern art, then head on over to the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. The museum showcases over 90,000 works of art collected since 1874 from various artists such as Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Chagall, Andy Warhol, Mondrian, and many more.
The museum houses many different types of modern and contemporary art (e.g., paintings, sculptures, books, photographs, etc.) and hosts many exhibitions throughout the year so do check their calendar to see which event is on during your visit.
Something Different: Want to impress your date? Book a ‘Heart Tour’ at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam! Go with your date through a specific tour within the museum that’s been specifically created to help you and your date ‘get to know each other better’. (Tickets can be booked on the museum’s website.)
10. Amsterdam Tulip Museum
If you haven’t had your fill of tulips yet, then you should visit the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. Situated in the Jordaan neighborhood in Amsterdam, the museum may be small but it offers a lot when it comes to the history of Dutch tulips, and their economic impact (Tulip Mania) in the 17th century.
Our Tip: If you’re interested in walking, biking, or driving a Tulip route, read about the various Tulpenroutes you can take in this article.
11. Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds Amsterdam is one of the famous wax museums around the globe founded by French artist Anna Maria “Marie” Tussaud. In addition to the global celebrities, the Amsterdam museum has wax figures of prominent Dutch personalities such as Doutzen Kroes, Nick & Simon, and of course, the Royal Dutch family.
Madame Tussauds Amsterdam is located at the popular Dam Square. If you’re looking for another museum at walking distance, then you can combine your visit to Madame Tussauds with Ripley’s. Ripley’s Believe it Or Not offers visitors over 500 exhibits and artifacts spread over five floors. If you’re after a few hours of intrigue, oddities, or anything unusual, then this is the place to visit.
12. BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project
BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project is a unique museum that takes you on a journey inside the human body through its display of 200 unique plastinates.
Plastination, a technique developed by German anatomist Gunther von Hagens in 1977, is the process of preserving human bodies for scientific and medical purposes. The process requires draining water and fat from the human body and replacing them with certain plastics.
The BODY WORLDS museum tackles many things about what happens inside the human body. As of this writing, The Happiness Project is the specific theme on view. It explores how our moods affect our health, and how these are reflected inside our bodies.
I amsterdam City Card
If you intend to visit multiple Amsterdam museums during your stay, the I amsterdam City Card is a very good investment. It costs €65.00 (24-hour access) and it includes free (or discounted) admission to nearly 60 museums in and around Amsterdam. It also includes unlimited use of the GVB public transport system in Amsterdam, as well as discounts to various Amsterdam attractions, canal cruises, and select Amsterdam restaurants.
The I amsterdam City Card is quite flexible too as it’s available in 24-, 48-, 72-, 96-, and 120-hour variants so you don’t need to rush. You can simply choose the city card that best suits the duration of your Amsterdam stay.