Museums and tours...
Amsterdam has some of the finest art and history museums in the world including the famed Van Gogh Museum dedicated to the inimitable Vincent; the Rijksmuseum with its fine collection of masterpieces; the recently-opened Hermitage Museum (the only branch of the renowned Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia), and museums of special interest like the Dutch Resistance Museum, and the Anne Frank House.
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Amsterdam has some of Europe’s finest museums…
Anne Frank Huis
For more than two years Anne Frank and her family lived in the annex of the building at Prinsengracht 263 where Anne’s father, Otto Frank, also had his business. The Van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer hid there with them. The doorway to the annex was concealed behind a moveable bookcase constructed especially for this purpose. The office personnel knew of the hiding place and helped the eight people by supplying them with food and news of the outside world. On August 4, 1944, the hiding place was betrayed. The people in hiding were deported to various concentration camps. Only Otto Frank survived the war.
Nowadays, the rooms at the Anne Frank House, though empty, still breathe the atmosphere of that period of time. Quotations from the diary, historical documents, photographs, film images, and original objects that belonged to those in hiding and the helpers illustrate the events that took place here. Anne’s original diary and other notebooks are on display in the museum. In the multimedia space, visitors can go on a “virtual journey” through the Anne Frank House, accessing background information about the people in hiding and World War Two. A contemporary exhibition is presented in the exhibition hall.
Note: During the summer-season many people from all over the world visit the Anne Frank House. This can mean people have to line up before entering the museum. Many visitors seem to be unaware of the fact that from 15 March through 14 September the museum is opened every day from 9 am till 9 p.m. The museum tends to be more quiet during the evening. Therefore, we would like to suggest our visitors to consider visiting the museum late in the afternoon/early in the evening.
Dutch Resistance Museum
The Dutch Resistance Museum, chosen as the best historical museum of the Netherlands, tells the story of the Dutch people in Word War II. How did Dutch people respond to the Nazi occupation? Who resisted? Why, and how? You’ll see, hear and read fascinating stories about the exceptional, as well as about everyday life. Education is a core task for the museum. Some fifteen thousand children visit the museum each year.
The permanent exhibition takes visitors back to the forties, the period of the German occupation during World War II. Streets and walls full of photos that make up the décor of the Dutch Resistance Museum help evoke the climate of the war years. The authentic objects, photos and documents, film and sound fragments, tell the history of people who lived through that period. This museum is a gem!
The Hermitage museum, located on the banks of Amsterdam’s Amstel river, is the Dutch branch of the world-famous Hermitage in Saint Petersburg (Russia). The Hermitage Amsterdam is a unique exhibition and cultural educational centre, portraying Russian history and culture. Visitors can find information about the history of St. Petersburg. On display a the Hermitage Amsterdam are paintings, graphic works, sculptures and works of applied art, archaeological finds and numismatic material, from the collection of the State Hermitage – which includes more than three million artefacts. The Hermitage Amsterdam also has a children’s section and holds regular workshops with the aim of stimulating creativity.
Tsar Peter had a special relationship with Amsterdam, having lived in the city for several years. He founded the first public museum in Russia, and some of the exhibits were bought by Tsar Peter in Holland. Back then, visitors were encouraged to come to the Hermitage by a free shot of vodka.
Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum houses the largest collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh in the world. It provides the opportunity to keep track of the artist’s developments, or compare his paintings to works by other artists from the 19th century. The museum’s permanent collection includes paintings, drawings and letters.
In addition to work by Van Gogh, the museum has a rich and varied collection of other 19th-century art. The artists represented include Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and others such as, those who inspired him, and those who drew inspiration from him and also Van Gogh’s friends and contemporaries.
On weekends, the Van Gogh Museum holds children’s art workshops. Aimed at the 6-12 years old, the workshops give children the chance to be creative while their parents can enjoy the gallery at leisure. Booking essential.
Built in 1876 according to a design by architect P.J.H. Cuypers, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands. It features a famous collection of works by Rembrandt (“The Night Watch”), Vermeer and Frans Hals as well as delftware, sculpture, Asian art and prints.
The Rijksmuseum has an extensive cultural history collection, which includes paintings, ship models, sculptures, archaeological artefacts, clothing, weapons, historical prints, photographs, etc.. The hundreds of thousands of items from the past collectively give a visual account of Dutch history within a global context.
Museum Our Lord in the Attic
Our Lord in the Attic is one of the oldest and most remarkable museums in Amsterdam. Behind the characteristic facade of the canal house lies a 17th-century home and a completely hidden church. This hidden church ‘in the attic’ was built during the Reformation, when Catholics were forbidden to hold public services.
For over two hundred years the attic served as a parish church for Catholics in the city centre. Of course the Protestant authorities knew about the hidden church, but they turned a blind eye. Amsterdam’s policy was to tolerate the diversity of faiths that flourished in the city.
Today, the Lord in the Attic church and the house form the backdrop to a succession of striking exhibitions highlighting religion and contemporary art. After the Rijksmuseum it is the city’s oldest museum.
The Willet-Holthuysen museum in Amsterdam had an interesting start. In 1895 Mrs Willet-Holthuysen bequeathed her 17th-century canal house to the city of Amsterdam in her will, on the condition that it was preserved and opened as a museum. Her wish has been faithfully observed for over a century – the house has been turned into a beautiful museum.
On the first floor there is a magnificent ballroom, a dining room, a room looking out over the garden and an imposing corridor. In other rooms, furnishings have been brought from comparable 18th and 19th century canal houses to recreate the atmosphere of bygone times.
The kitchen is in the basement and gives a good idea of what life must have been like for the servants. At the back of the building the garden is laid out in early 18th-century French fashion, transporting you back in time. The museum houses a remarkable collection of Golden age art and silverware. The house is located at the Herengracht. The Amsterdam canal belt is officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Museum of Bags and Purses
Travel through time, history and fashion in the company of the impressive collection of bags in the Museum of Bags and Purses. The only museum in the world with such an extensive and specialized collection, the Museum of Bags and Purses tells the history of the western handbag from the late Middle Ages right up to the present.
The museum owns more than 4000 bags, pouches, purses, suitcases and other accessories displaying a great variety in form, function, material, techniques and adornments. Social developments and styles in the applied arts and fashions are reflected in the bag throughout history.
The museum is considered to be one of the eight most prestigious fashion museums in the world. The museum shows bags from the 16th century; but also pouches and alms bags from the 17th century; pockets, portfolios and buckle bags from the 18th century; 19th century reticules and stocking purses as well as well-known brands, bags from celebrate designers, evening bags, extraordinary models and contemporary bags from the 20th- and 21st century.
As well as the permanent historical collection, the museum has temporary themed exhibitions and organizes exhibitions of contemporary designers from home and abroad, giving young designers the chance to show their work to a larger audience.
The Museum of Bags and Purses is situated in a splendid canal house dating from 1664 on the Herengracht. The whole building was restored in 2007 whereby classical details were stylishly combined with modern design. The welcoming museum café is located behind the building and offers a splendid view of the museum’s historical garden. You can also enjoy a superb high tea or lunch as well as follow a workshop, guided tour or a lecture. Additionally, our museum shop offers a wide range of bags from Dutch and overseas designers, cards, books and gift articles. The museum is pleased to welcome you every day from 10 am till 5 pm.
Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum (Tropical museum) is one of Europe’s leading ethnographic museums. The vivid, interactive and life-like exhibitions offer a glimpse of life in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world.
The beautiful and historic building in which the Tropenmuseum is housed provides space for spectacular permanent and temporary exhibitions. On display are artworks, objects, photographs, music and film from non-western cultures such as Asia, Oceania, Africa and Latin America. World music, dance and theatre are regularly highlighted.
Being part of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), the Tropenmuseum is more than just a museum. The venue also hosts regular lectures, films, guided tours, music and theatre shows and has an inspiring and entertaining children’s programme.
Amsterdam Museum (Amsterdam Historical Museum)
The Amsterdam Museum tells the compelling story of the growth and heyday of the Dutch capital. Discover seven centuries of the city’s history – once a small settlement on the banks of the Amstel, and now a bustling, diverse metropolis.
The rich collection of works of art, objects and archaeological finds brings to life the fortunes of the Amsterdammers of days gone by. Photos and film material show the happy times as well as the drama of the modern city’s inhabitants.
Museum Het Schip – Amsterdam School
Museum Het Schip shows the “Amsterdamse school” architectural style in its social, political and artistic context. Michel de Klerk – the most important and prolific Amsterdamse school architect- designed three monumental public housing blocks, called the Spaarndammerplantsoen, which brought the movement fame. The most expressionist apartment block is known as Het Schip (The Ship).
Another of these housing blocks includes a post office, resembling a huge piece of sculpture, situated at the prow of “the ship”. De Klerk designed the complete interior including counters, seats, and a telephone booth. The building also features an exhibition titled ‘Poste Restante, de Amsterdamse School’, which answers questions such as: What were the special circumstances that turned Amsterdam into a mecca for public housing, and what is the cultural-historical value of the Amsterdam School?
Museum Het Schip also provides access to a restored working class house, the exhibition on the Amsterdam School architects’ inspiration sources and an opportunity to see Michel de Klerk’s world-famous tower.
Museum Van Loon
Museum Van Loon is the residence of Amsterdam’s Van Loon family. Willem van Loon was one of the founders of the Dutch East India Company (the V.O.C.) The museum is housed in a double canal house that dates back to 1672. Most of the interior has remained intact throughout the centuries.
The first resident of the house was Ferdinand Bol, Rembrandt’s famous pupil. Around 1750 the interior was completely rebuilt and embellished in the Rococo style. In 1884 the house was bought as a wedding present for the Honourable Willem van Loon and his wife. The house was opened to the public in 1973.
The most interesting part of the house is the bel-etage. The great hall has an impressive balustrade dating from around 1760. The portraits on the walls depict members of the Van Loon family from 1600 to the present. The garden room offers a good view of the garden and the impressive façade of the coach house. The museum is located at the Keizersgracht and is accesible by boat. The Amsterdam canal belt is officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.