The Dutch capital is home to some world-famous museums and galleries, in fact there’s an entire museum district located right in the city centre. But what are the very best museums in Amsterdam to visit in 2021? Whether the largest museum in the city, Rijksmuseum, is calling your name, or you’ve always wanted to visit the Anne Frank House, or maybe you’re an art lover who wants to tick Van Gogh’s ‘Almond Blossom’ and Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ off your bucket list, there’s a museum for every interest. There are a whopping 75 museums in Amsterdam, so we’ve rounded up the best of the best including traditional and modern art museums (say hello to plenty of Banksy) to make your cultural tour of Amsterdam that little bit easier to decide.
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1. Van Gogh Museum
Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam
The most visited museum in Amsterdam is one dedicated to the Dutch post-impressionist artist, Vincent Van Gogh. The Van Gogh Museum, located in the heart of the city at Museumplein, is visited by over 2 million people every year (not counting the recent chaos, you know what we mean). Explore Van Gogh’s most famous masterpieces in the gallery’s permanent collection, including ‘Sunflowers’, ‘Almond Blossom’ and some of his world-renowned self-portraits. If you’re already a lover of his well-known work, the Van Gogh Museum is a must-see for not only these, but also a look at his lesser-known paintings and a view into his life’s journey as an artist through the hard times and the highlights. The gallery is home to the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world, with 200 of his paintings, 400 drawings and 700 letters from the artist throughout the modern, multi-story museum.
Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam
Home to a display of over 8,000 artefacts representing art and history in the Netherlands, this Amsterdam museum is an iconic attraction in the city centre. Just a couple of minutes walk across the square from the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum is another bucket list sight in Amsterdam. It’s also the only museum in the world with a road and cycle path running straight through it, which you’re bound to pass through at least once during your visit to the city. Art and history buffs are in for a treat on a visit to Rijksmuseum, hosting all sorts of fascinating objects that tell a story of the Netherlands, whether its antique doll’s houses from the 17th century, the Cuypers Library (a beautiful room full of the country’s largest collection of art history books) or Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ amongst countless other intriguing Dutch objects, some of which date way back to the 1200s.
3. Moco Museum
Honthorststraat 20, 1071 DE Amsterdam
Another one sitting in the heart of the action, just a minute’s walk from Museumplein is a modern, contemporary art museum which aims to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for a wide range of visitors including those with a deep interest in art, as well as those who are usually indifferent. Moco Museum hosts a huge collection contributed by incredible modern artists who often use humour to capture the viewer’s attention. Household names like Andy Warhol and Banksy have their work exhibited here, as well as other inspiring contemporary artists like Jean-Michel Bascquiat, Yayoi Kusama and KAWS showcasing both entertaining and eye-opening pieces. Enjoy the bright and bold, the fun and the quirky throughout this top museum in Amsterdam and take home a feeling of fresh inspiration and creativity.
4. Stedelijk Museum
Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam
Along with Moco, Stedelijk Museum is one of Amsterdam’s leading museums for contemporary art and design. Being amongst the city’s lesser known museums, it’s a fantastic option for art lovers who prefer to move from piece to piece in a much more peaceful atmosphere. Step inside the bath-shaped building to marvel at the talent on display from the early 20th century to modern day. Stedelijk features a number of world-renowned artists’ work including Vincent Van Gogh, Wassily Kandinksy, Andy Warhol and Ludwig Kirchner, so art fans really are spoiled for choice on a tour around Amsterdam’s museum hub. Since it opened in 1874, the museum’s collection has acquired nearly 90,000 objects that millions of visitors from across the world have seen. For a deeper dive into the fascinating world of art from modern eras, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam is for you.
5. Venustempel Sex Museum Amsterdam
Damrak 18, 1012 LH Amsterdam
Home to the Red Light District and the world’s first condom shop, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the city also boasts a very cheeky sex museum - another world first! This unique museum takes a look into the history of sensual love through the ages, displaying a huge collection of erotic photographs, recordings, paintings, sculptures and more. While some if not a lot of the artefacts will give you a giggle, when you look past how it might automatically come across funny and read into the history of the piece, you’ll see the museum is incredibly well put together and really very interesting.
6. Rembrandt House
Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011 NK Amsterdam
Between the years 1639 and 1656, the world-renowned 17th-century artist Rembrandt owned, lived and worked in this very building near Dam Square. Not too long ago, the house was reconstructed to look and feel like it did back when Rembrandt resided within its walls. Since opening as a museum it doesn't only show how the painter lived, but it’s also a gallery showcasing his etchings and paintings, as well as work by other artists from his era who were likely either inspired by or the inspiration behind Rembrandt’s art. Visit Rembrandt House for a deeper understanding of the famous artist’s life as he lived and worked in the wealthiest part of the city.
7. Anne Frank House and Museum
Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam
We can’t recommend a visit to the Anne Frank House and Museum enough. This piece of history is a real tear jerker, and being able to experience just a tiny snippet of what it must’ve been like for the Frank family to hide - in silence - in that tiny Secret Annexe during those years is a humbling and somber experience. Dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank, here you can learn all about her time in hiding and how she and her beloved family lived during the Nazi regime. The museum allows visitors to step inside the space that Anne Frank inhabited for 761 days and get a feel for how terrifying it must have been through the eyes of a young girl. An exhibition space right next door displays extracts from her diary and photographs amongst a host of other interesting artefacts related to the Second World War. This museum in Amsterdam is a bucket list item for anyone, so be sure to book your ticket well in advance of your trip to the city and take one of the free audio tours to get even more out of your visit.
8. Amsterdam Museum
Kalverstraat 92, 1012 PH Amsterdam
Located inside what began as Saint Lucien’s Monastery in the Middle Ages, then the city orphanage in 1578, Amsterdam Museum is historic in itself. It’s one of the best museums in the city to learn more about the history of Amsterdam from the Red Light District to Rembrandt and Dutch football team, Ajax, to the legalisation of pot. Containing collections of artefacts from the Middle Ages up to the present day, grab an audio guide and soak up all the fascinating stories from Amsterdam’s past at the Amsterdam Museum on Kalverstraat.
9. Hermitage Museum
Amstel 51, 1018 DR Amsterdam
On the banks of the river Amstel inside a 17th century building, the Hermitage Museum boasts an impressive collection of historic art and fascinating artefacts that will hook in any history lover. Housing pieces from collections across some of the best museums in Amsterdam including Rijksmuseum, it’s also the sister to St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum in Russia. Hermitage Museum often switches up their exhibition spaces, providing a location for a diverse range of smaller exhibitions and ensuring the museum is beautifully decorated in accordance with each one. If you’re excited to learn more about Dutch history but don’t wish to follow the crowds, Hermitage Museum is a less-touristic destination to do so.
Linnaeusstraat 2, 1092 CK Amsterdam
Tropenmuseum is a museum in Amsterdam dedicated to the diversity of humanity on Earth. It’s one of the city’s largest museums, housed inside an incredibly beautiful building near Oosterpark. Inside, you’ll find thousands of interesting artefacts that each tell a different human story from cultures across the world. When you look at each object, you won’t only learn about the diversity of our planet’s cultures, but the ways in which they all tie together through universal themes that enrich us as a species. Tropenmuseum is home to eight permanent exhibitions as well as an ever-changing series of temporary exhibitions that vary from art to photography.
11. Museum Van Loon
Keizersgracht 672, 1017 ET Amsterdam
Named after a wealthy Dutch family who lived in the building from the 19th century, Museum Van Loon is the perfect example of what an aristocratic home in the Netherlands would have looked like in centuries gone by. The museum was designed in 1672 by Adriaen Dortsman, its first resident, Ferdinand Bol, being a painter and one of Rembrandt’s pupils. Today, people visit this museum in Amsterdam to discover how affluent Dutch families lived from the 17th century. Portraits, silverware, furniture and porcelain objects from another time are all on display, but a major highlight is the stunning gardens, pruned to perfection with hardly a leaf out of place.