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From Dutch masters to historical artifacts to the up-and-coming photography scene, Amsterdam is the perfect city to explore your cultural interests. Here, our list of the best museums to visit in the “Venice of the North.”
Van Gogh Museum
The most visited museum in the Netherlands is worthy of the hype. Linger over the 200-plus Van Gogh paintings and drawings—the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world—and dive into personal letters that shed light on his private life and the depression that informed his art. The museum also holds a collection by the painter’s contemporaries and predecessors, including many Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
The largest contemporary art museum in Amsterdam (and in the Netherlands as a whole) owns some 90,000 works in a variety of disciplines including sculpture, painting, mixed media, and photography. Highlights include works by heavyweights like De Kooning, Warhol, and Pollock, along with some of the first abstract pieces by Wassily Kandinsky, and Piet Mondrian’s paintings that launched the De Stijl movement.
Anne Frank House
Don’t let the two month-long waiting list deter you. Sign up online in advance of your trip to tour the famous 17th-century canal house where the Frank family hid from the Nazis, and Anne wrote her famous diary. On display are the rooms of the “Secret Annex,” virtually untouched since becoming the most famous hideout in history, as well as drawings, bus passes, letters, and personal objects belonging to the people in hiding.
Reopened in 2013 after a decade-long, $441-million renovation, the Rijksmuseum draws over two million people per year to view what many consider to be Amsterdam’s most impressive art collection. The majority of the million-plus works of art housed here are by 17th-century Dutch masters, such as Rembrandt and Vermeer, but other gems abound too, from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Entry is free with an I Amsterdam City Card.
Rembrandt House Museum
Speaking of Dutch masters, the Rembrandt House Museum is located in the artist and collector’s original residence, where he lived between 1639 and 1658. It contains hundreds of etchings, drawings, and paintings, plus a small number of works by the painter’s teacher in Amsterdam, Pieter Lastman, and a few by his contemporaries and pupils. Stepping inside is like stepping back 400 years, with narrow staircases and tiny doorways leading to the rooms Rembrandt used as his studios.
Foam Photography Museum
Also known as Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, Foam, located in a stylish canal house on the Keizersgracht, holds blockbuster exhibits by major international photographers such as Diane Arbus and Helmut Newton, as well as incubator shows by impressive up-and-comers in photography, video, and multimedia. The museum also hosts public lectures and forums and publishes a beautiful in-house magazine three times per year. Be sure to check out the library, which is top-notch.