Amsterdam has a fascinating history, made all the richer by its prominence in Europe during the Dutch Golden Age. As one of the most important ports in the world during the 17th century, it was home to the Dutch East India and West India companies. Ships were sent sailing to such far-off places as India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Africa, returning with imports that would make Amsterdam the wealthiest city in the world for a time.
With an entire district dedicated to displaying Amsterdam’s historic goods, it can be overwhelming to decide which museums to visit. Book a hotel in Amsterdam’s canal rings to be well-placed between all of the major ones. Then, decide which of the impressive, quirky, and intriguing collections you’ll visit.
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As the most visited museum in the Netherlands, the Rijksmuseum was founded in the early 1800s. This historic building houses over 8,000 objects of art and history. You’ll have no problem finding intriguing pieces to peruse in this collection, with many works by notable painters from the Dutch Golden Age like Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals. The best time to visit the Rijksmuseum is late afternoon, just before closing. The museum will empty markedly during the last half hour, which will give you a chance to look at the more famous pieces up close.
The Van Gogh Museum
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My personal favorite museum in Amsterdam is the quirky and whimsical collection of Vincent Van Gogh. While many of his most famous pieces are on display, such asSunflowers, Self Portrait, and Bedroom in Arles, it is his earlier darker pieces that I found most intriguing. Here, you can witness the transformation of this Dutch artist’s skill, and enjoy interactive displays that allow you an up-close look at Van Gogh’s technique. An intriguing mystery section details the theft of two paintings that were never recovered and are still sought by the museum today.
The National Maritime Museum
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A quirky and entertaining collection, the National Maritime Museum chronicles over 500 years of maritime history. The most exciting part of this collection is theAmsterdam replica moored outside, which was built after the famous Dutch East India Company ship wrecked on her maiden voyage. You can explore the cargo hold, learn about how the ships were packed, investigate the captain’s quarters and rediscover your old pirate fantasies. The museum itself has impressive objects on display, like historical maps, paintings, and models of famous ships. If you have children, they’ll get hours of entertainment here.
The Dutch Resistance Museum
The Dutch Resistance Museum offers an interactive medium to learn about the history of World War II in the Netherlands. Chronicling both the Nazi Occupation and Resistance Movement, the inventive displays combine real objects and artifacts from the time period with sounds and space to simulate the actual atmosphere of Amsterdam during that time. Real documents, real posters, actual film footage, and other objects allow you to delve deeper into the past and learn about Amsterdam in a novel and imaginative way.