I am a museum kind of gal.
I love the romance and admiration that washes over me when standing in the presence of an ancient art piece. There is something so awe-inspiring about the enthusiasm and dedication in which artists, royalty, and religion had in regards to documenting the myths, legends and everyday experiences of society throughout the ages.
I think the thing that impresses me more than the actual art or artifacts themselves is the shared respect that each culture has in preserving history. It is a beautiful act that makes us human.
There are so many lessons to learn, hidden gems to discover, and dramatic stories to discover while exploring.
I know not everyone shares my same esteem towards standing in a long line and wandering through crowds for hours to look at old dusty portraits. I get it, I really do! What brings many people to Amsterdam is not the long lineups to the art museums its more X-rated frivolity. To those people, I say, carpe diem!
However, for those wishing to have a more in-depth look at Amsterdam’s history, I suggest a visit to these three museums. Three very different museums, sharing unique perspectives into Amsterdam’s rich history and culture.
I hope you enjoy!
On our first full day in Amsterdam, we decided to visit the Rijksmuseum. The Rijks was founded in the year 1800 and is the most visited museum in the country with over 2.2 million visitors a year. The museum displays around 8,000 objects of art and history, from their total collection of 1 million objects from the years 1200–2000. Among the most famous are masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer.
Opened from 9:00 to 17:00 daily with a ticket price of € 17.50 this is the kind of place you should set a nice amount of time towards. Being a must see on my list and a nearly full day venture I thought it would be best to get this out of the way on the first day. A great choice considering the day was rather rainy as well.
The line to enter this museum ran smoothly and visiting it first was a great way to understand more about the cities history and culture. We spent around 4-6 hours in the museum (my memory is a little hazy on that detail).
I also recommend breaking up your visit to the museum by taking a lunch break in the museum’s cafe, a great way to recharge before enjoying more sites.
Some favorites of mine were the seventh and eighteenth-century furniture pieces, the small ancient Asian display and of course the Nights Watch by Rembrandt.
When I began learning more about Vincent Van Gogh I became engulfed and a little obsessed. Not really because of his art, although his paintings are one of a kind, beautiful and obviously famous but by the artist himself. I read the many letters sent back and forth between Vincent and his brother before our trip and his personality hypnotized me. Relatable in his understandable madness and inspiring pain I found him a source of inspiration in my personal life.
I found his story a testament that although you may be mad you can be talented, we all have our strengths in life. Something that perhaps should be taught more openly in schools to children.
Visiting the museum was a wonderful opportunity to read even more letters shared between him and his family and friends, learn more about the artist and of course gawk at his beautiful paintings.
The museum’s collection is the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings and drawings in the world.
I suggest arriving early as this is a very popular museum and lines can get long. Set aside 2-4 hours to visit this museum. You will not be disappointed.
Among the most anticipated item on my Amsterdam travel list was visiting the Anne Frank House. Undoubtedly one of the most famous books ever read and being considered within the top 20 books of the twentieth century. Visiting the home of Anne Frank (now a museum) was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I was so excited to experience.
The Anne Frank house is located near the famous Westerkerk church on the Prinsengracht canal which is the longest of the main canals in Amsterdam. It was this church which was our beacon in finding the museum.
When we arrived at the museum there was already a line formulated in front of the building, but as we already had our tickets purchased we did not need to worry about waiting. (I recommend purchasing tickets online ahead of time)
The museum is a somber recollection of one of many lives that were lost and impacted by this gruesome stain of human indecency, which is World War 2. As the reality of war washed over me I felt my eyes well up with tears as I watched video footage of the Germans invading beautiful Netherlands. A city I enjoyed so freely today. As the cruelty of the organized extermination of Jews from the Netherlands unfolded on screen I felt as if I was transported into a nightmare, knowing how it all unfolds, but unable to look away from the horror.
When we reached the Annex upstairs we shuffled soundlessly, 12 to a room. Quiet tears filled the eyes of all who felt the impact of Anne’s story and their connection to it.
Otto Frank did not want any furniture to clutter the rooms therefore on the walls hang the cutout pictures that Anne had on her wall, things the Nazis left behind after they were discovered.
Once out of the Annex we were greeted with more screens showing interviews from Anne’s friends who had survived the war. An old boyfriend, a school friend and then Otto Frank. We watched footage of the concentration camps and then saw the liberation of the Netherlands.
Downstairs there was a room filled with interviews from people who had visited the museum throughout the years. Famous actors, artists, royalty, politicians, regular folks like me and you. All sharing how the story of Anne Frank touched them.
The museum did not disappoint, it was an eye-opening and somber experience that did more than just preserve the former home of Anne Frank. It told the grueling story of World War 2 and showed the impact that the Nazis had on not only Jews in Amsterdam but the city as a whole.
I feel everyone should take the time to take the somber walk through the Anne frank museum to better remember and understand a history that we are all very much connected to.