Guest blogger Christine from C’est Christine just loves a gander round a gallery or two on her travels. Here is her pick of the top museums and galleries in Amsterdam. If you happen to be visiting the city in November, try and catch Museumnacht 2011 with late-night openings and parties and special events at Amsterdam museums across the city…
When many young travellers think of Amsterdam, they think of canals, clubs and *cough* coffee shops: Art and culture isn’t exactly at the top of the list.
On the first Saturday of November, however, Amsterdam museums are transformed into the hottest parties in the city. DJs, dancing and drinks take over more than 40 museums until 2am, with designated after-parties to keep the party going. Even though Museumnacht has a knack for making the humdrum hip, there are a few Amsterdam galleries not to be missed no matter what time of the year you visit.
Van Gogh Museum
Vincent Van Gogh is often associated with Southern France, not the Netherlands: the Dutch painter studied in Paris, was inspired by the bright palette of Provence and committed suicide in Auvers, one of the French towns that he often depicted. While the Van Gogh Museum is a bit pricey for the works of just one artist, it’s a remarkable collection.
Address: Paulus Potterstraat 7
Admission: €14 Euros
Anne Frank House
While it’s a terribly sad story (albeit an international best-seller), Anne Frank’s father has turned her former hiding place into a symbol of hope. It’s eerie to see the rooms that she describes in the pages of her diary, being able to practically touch the walls that she decorated with magazine cutouts. However, her innocently optimistic words on the innate goodness of humanity are enough to inspire you to be a bit better.
Address: Prinsengracht 263-267
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijnwas one of the most prolific and profitable artists of his time, one of those rare gems who actually enjoyed success in his lifetime. His house is a collection of both his works and his wealth, providing a glimpse into daily life in the 1600’s. Don’t miss his extraordinary etchings or the historical demonstrations of how he created his pieces.
Address: Jodenbreestraat 4-6
The most popular plant in Amsterdam is, without a doubt, marijuana. Smoking weed is a completely legal pastime here, and the coffee houses can be spotted on every corner. If you’re interested in a different type of green, explore the sprawling gardens and greenhouses (there are more than 6,000 types of plants!). One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, it’s a peaceful escape from the throngs of tourists at the popular Amsterdam museums, particularly if the weather’s warm.
Address: Middenlaan 2a
When you exit out of the Amsterdam train station, you’ll quickly notice the giant, green, oddly-shaped building on the water: it’s a far cry from the classic canal ring buildings that line the water. Inside, the NEMO is every single science fair experiment you could think of, but on a grander and much cooler scale. There are life-size bubbles, a make-your-own-beat music room and one of those awesome static-inducing balls. Let your inner nerdy child come out and play. Be sure to head to the roof for a panoramic view of Amsterdam.
Address: Oosterdok 2
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
It won’t take you long to learn about the history of the tulip, but the beauty of this museum is really in the stunning tulip photography and gorgeous bulbs it sells. Located right across the canal from the Anne Frank House, it’s only 4 Euros—worth it just to learn some fun flower facts and to pick up the perfect gift for the green thumb in your life.
Address: Prinsengracht 112
The museum of photography features cutting-edge exhibits in a space that feels surprisingly modern, despite its location in a traditional home lining a canal. The exhibits change regularly, which means you could enjoy black-and-white photojournalism one visit and pictorial narratives the next. If you are looking for contemporary art galleries Amsterdam has plenty of bright, young and emerging talent displayed throughout the city, especially in the small and independent Amsterdam galleries.
Address: Keizersgracht 609
Originally created as a colonial museum, it has evolved into a look at life in distant countries and different cultures. The collection is enormous and informative, but also compelling. Tucked away from the city centre, it’s aimed more at locals than at tourists—but it’s still worth a look.
Address: Linnaeusstraat 2
You can book hostels in Amsterdam and be within easy reach of the best nightlife, cafe culture and galleries that this city has to offer!
Christine is a California-born travel writer and photographer who can’t resist a modern art museum, bike-friendly city or pain au chocolat. Catch up on her European escapades and her future Australian adventures at C’est Christine and follow her at @camorose.