What do you do in Amsterdam when it rains? Why, you go to a museum, of course! But if you should reflect on the quality and diversity of the museums offered in this city, you might even consider visiting one on a sunny day!
From our hotel near Leidseplein it was only a ten minute walk along the Singelgracht to Museumplein, a large grassy area surrounded by a number of museums and one concert hall. The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands and the country’s largest and it sits grandly on Stadhouderskade by the canal. If the Rijks reminds you of Amsterdam’s Centraal Station that’s because they were both designed in the 1880s by the same architect: Pierre Cuypers. There are about a million works of art housed in the Rijks, including Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid and other famous paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, when the Netherlands was on top of the world.
Along the grassy plain behind the Rijksmuseum you will find the Stedelijk modern art museum and the Van Gogh Museum. The concert hall (Concertgebouw, reknowned for its acoustics) is nearby. There’s a diamond museum close by the Rijksmuseum. And the Heineken Experience, housed in an old brewery, is only a few blocks away. The Van Gogh museum closed last September but is scheduled to open again in May. There has been a temporary Van Gogh exhibition in the Hermitage Museum that will close on April 25th. The Rijksmuseum has been closed for about ten years with only one wing open to visitors. It is scheduled to be completely open next month.
We found the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum on our walk down Damrak on Saturday after our canal cruise. And we walked by. Not our style.
On our bus tour of Amsterdam we encountered a science museum called Nemo that is shaped like a ship and the National Maritime museum, both on the IJ east of the Centraal Station. Directly behind the Centraal Station and on the north waterfront of the IJ harbor is the EYE Film Institute Netherlands building that includes a cinematography museum. We think this building should be the recipient of the country’s most striking modern architecture award.
On our canal cruise we passed the Bags and Purses Museum, the Tulip Museum and the Anne Frank house. Several stately canal houses in the Grachtengordel have been turned into museums, the most popular being the Van Loom Home on Keysergracht.
As you might expect, there are a couple of sex museums in Amsterdam as well as a museum devoted to Hash, Marihuana and Hemp. You might not expect to find a museum that is also a Catholic Church called Our Lord in the Attic in the upper floors of a canal house in the Red Light District. This church dates back to the 1600s when Catholics were not allowed to worship publicly.
We stayed in Amsterdam for three days after our cruise and only had time to visit two museums. We walked in the rain to the Van Gogh Museum on Museumplein on Sunday and the next day walked in the sun along the Prinsengracht all the way to the Anne Frank House. We think we picked the two best.
Tomorrow: More on the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House.