Museums are not the first thing that come to mind when thinking of the Dutch city of Amsterdam, but visitors to the city would surely be missing out if they were to come and not go to at least of the few fabulous museums in the city. In all there are 73 museums, ranging from general to very specific, small to large and offering a huge variety of topics; even those that do not consider themselves museum-goers are likely to find one that suits their interests.
The Amsterdam Historic Museum is a good place to start for a grand overview of the city. The museum’s collection is housed in magnificent historical buildings which were once a city orphanage in the 15th century. The main focus of the museum is on what is known as the ‘golden age’ during the 17th century when Holland was the richest country in the world., and visitors can discover the city’s rich history: from learning about its inhabitants to events that has helped shaped Dutch culture.
If art is your thing, head to the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, otherwise known as the National Museum. This is the largest museum in the Netherlands and is internationally renowned for its exhibitions as well as its permanent collection.
For a smaller and more personal look into history visit the Anne Frank house. This house is where she and her family lived in hiding for more than two years during WWII. During this time they also shared their small hiding compartment – which was hidden by a bookcase – with another family. When they were finally discovered by the Nazis in 1944, eight people shared this confined space, and upon discovery, all were sent off to concentration camps where only Anne Frank’s father survived. In the museum there are excerpts from the diary of Anne Frank, historical documents, photographs and objects that survived through the years. The original diary is also there along with notebooks and information about what the family endured during this time.
After a trip to the sombre Anne Frank house, visitors to Amsterdam can also treat themselves to some of the other small but quirky museums like the Houseboat Museum. Many people have imagined what it would be like to live on a houseboat, but even if you have never wondered, the Houseboat museum gives visitors a chance to get a feel for what it would be like to live on the water. The museum actually resides on a real houseboat located on one of Amsterdam’s many canals, although it is no longer used as a home. Much like the many houseboats visitors see on the water, the houseboat is a converted barge, which was originally used to transport goods such as sand, gravel and coal.
Art lovers, on the other hand, must visit the Van Gogh museum. This museum contains the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings in the world. His works are organised chronologically so as you move through the museum it is as close to an intimate encounter with the artist that is possible. The huge collection is further broken down into five main periods representing where he was in life at each time.
A short break to Amsterdam is easy to arrange and won’t break the bank – making it an ideal, yet inexpensive getaway. Most of the museums are also open daily, making any time of year good for a visit.