Amsterdam is a city of canals, bicycles, coffee shops, and countless museums. The history of what was once the richest city in the world may be best told through art. The city is filled with paintings, sculpture, and buildings that tell the rich story of this former capital of the world.
Van Gough Museum
Holland celebrates one of its most famous painters at the Van Gough Museum. The 3 story modern contemporary building is filled with the largest collection in the world of paintings done by Vincent Van Gough. The exhibitions are biographical as well as being amazing showcases of the unique paintings. I walked the halls of the gallery for hours learning about the life and admiring the talent of the man who’s Starry Night inspired me in the wee 2nd grade to study art.
Tips: Skip the long queue by buying a ticket online at least 24 hours in advance on the museum’s website. It was really convenient, easy, and I was able to buy mine for the very next day. In the late afternoon is the best time to visit a few hours before closing.
A museum dedicated to “the Dutchness of Dutchness” according to its Director of Collections is obviously a must see when in the Netherlands. The museums vast collection, its beautiful building, and stunning gardens make it a perfect place to learn just what Holland is all about. From medieval times to the Dutch Golden Age to now, this museum has it all. I loved the Grand Hall of Old Masters featuring Rembrandt, Vermeer and others. Its palatial design of arched ceilings made me feel like I was viewing an esteemed royal collection. Also, it has the most beautiful library.
Tips: For this museum, it can be safe to buy a ticket upon arrival. Do make sure that you visit the gardens after the galleries. The fountains and foliage provide a lovely atmosphere to relax in after strolling the museum halls for hours.
Anne Frank House
The most famous diary in the world was written in secret in a narrow little house on a canal-side street in Amsterdam. The museum is a somber experience as visitors are reminded that the book that they read in middle school and the girl they felt was confessing her life’s story personally existed in the very same space. The museum features her living space and still has the posters she hung on the walls. The museum sheds light on what life was like during the holocaust for many Jews.
Tips: Get here early! The queue for getting in is often down the street and around the corner even right before closing. Your best bet is getting to the museum in the morning for opening and hoping that most other travelers are still in bed nursing a hangover.
Long considered one of the great masters of portraiture, Rembrandt is a name known worldwide. His colorful Amsterdam home and studio now houses a huge body of his work and a glimpse into his dwelling in all its rustic perfection. Imagining Rembrandt sitting at his easel sketching his latest self-portrait or a captivating nude is totally awe-inspiring.
Tips: Arriving either early or late into the museums hours are the best for avoiding a crowded experience.
Going to any or all of these museums ensures an amazing experience of getting to know Holland much more than by hitting the plazas and shops. I count my museum experiences in Amsterdam as some of my very favorite art viewing (and I’ve done a lot!). The Van Gough Museum is at the top of my list with its fun vibe and amazing collection.