Most visitors to Amsterdam will find their way to the city’s most famous art museums, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, along with sites of particular historic interest like the Anne Frank House. But Amsterdam also has dozens of other excellent, sometimes offbeat museums that are worth discovering. Here are five favorites.
Occupying the former waterside premises of the Dutch Admiralty Arsenal, which supplied ships during Holland’s Golden Age, Het Scheepvaartmuseum (the National Maritime Museum) displays maps, globes and navigational instruments, as well as intricate models of ships. Moored in front of the museum, a reproduction 18th-century Dutch East Indiaman offers an intriguing glimpse of what life was like on the sailing vessels that voyaged from Dutch ports to destinations as distant as Brazil and the Dutch colony of Batavia, today’s city of Jakarta.
Kattenburgerplein 1. Tel. (31) 20-523-2222
The Van Loon residence offers an intimate glimpse into the former domestic life of the grand houses that line the canals of Amsterdam. It is still owned and inhabited by the distinguished Van Loon family; its members live on the top two floors. Willem van Loon was the co-founder of the Dutch East India Company in 1602, his grandson was the mayor of Amsterdam and the family became titled in the early 19th century, which explains the framed photographs of European royals on side tables in several of the beautiful and intimate drawing rooms. There’s also a lovely garden in the backyard — a rarity in Amsterdam.
Museum Van Loon
Keizersgracht 672. Tel. (31) 20-624-5255
The Nazis invaded the Netherlands in 1940. The Dutch resistance organized immediately, gathering as much intelligence for the Allies as possible and also protecting the city’s historic Jewish community as best they could. The forged documents, homemade radios and improvised weapons on display are as fascinating as the film footage of life during the occupation is harrowing.
Plantage Kerklaan 61. Tel. (31) 20-620-2535
The grandest and most elegant of all of Amsterdam’s canal houses became a museum after the death of Louisa Holthuysen, in 1895. Her husband’s vast art collection — paintings, silver and objets d’art — is on display, and the gardens behind the house are among the largest belonging to a formerly private residence in Amsterdam.
Herengracht 605. Tel. (31) 20-523-1822
Amsterdamers love photography, and this museum in a handsome 17th-century canal house stages some of the more avant-garde shows in the city. The museum also features new artists, and there’s a permanent collection of works by Dutch, South African and Japanese artists.
Keizersgracht 401. Tel. (31) 20-531-8989