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Museums in Amsterdam

Alison Laycock

Before coming to Amsterdam, I knew about the many museums to visit or at least I thought I did but once here I’ve realised how many more there are. Therefore, if you enjoy going to a variety of museums from art, maritime to sex or erotica then Amsterdam is certainly the place for you. You will not be disappointed by choice, however you might be if you don’t book ahead. 

Let’s take a look at some of them with a few tips included.

Rijksmuseum: €17.50: Good value. It is not necessary to book a set date and time so you can turn up whenever you want between 9am and 5pm but bear in mind you will need about an hour and a half to do it justice. There is an option to have a media device which talks you through the important parts in your own language (€5 for adults) which may be useful as all the descriptions are in Dutch and English only.

I bought my ticket at the Hop on Hop off ticket office as there wasn’t a queue, however there was always a long queue at the Museum Shop in the square by the museum. Photos are allowed which is quite unfortunate as you will find that people lean on or across you to take a photo or actually stick their camera between you and the paintings! Yes both of these happened to me and the excuse given for taking a photo when I was looking at the painting, when she was called out by someone else was “Well, she wasn’t taking a photo!”. Hmm yes not really an excuse for her rudeness. So be prepared.

You have to leave your bags in the cloakroom but it is free so leave your coat too as it was warm inside the museum. There is a lot to take in across all those 3 floors as there are so many beautiful and interesting paintings and artefacts so it is worth putting the camera or mobile away and actually experiencing your visit through your own eyes rather than through a screen.

If you have children, then engage them in discussions about what they see and like or what they think when looking at a particular painting as otherwise it is a lot for them to just walk around and will soon lose interest. The crowds will be on the 1st floor for Van Gogh or around Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’ on the 2nd floor. I had enough time in Amsterdam to be able to spread out my museum visits which worked out for the best as otherwise there would have been too much to take in and appreciate.  

Van Gogh museum: €18 which gives you access to the Van Gogh collection over 3 floors, the Van Gogh Dreams exhibition and Gaugin and Laval in Martinique. I had tried to buy my ticket online but for some reason there was an error on the website and although I enquired on the Hop on Hop off bus they didn’t have any availability for the next 2 days so I had to buy at their ticket office. As you have to buy for a set date and time, you are slightly restricted and when I asked the only time I could actually get a ticket for was Friday at 9.15am so I took that. You have to leave your bags in the cloakroom which is free so as with Rijksmuseum also leave any jackets as it is warm enough. 

You can’t take photos inside the exhibitions which is great as it means that people move around slowly taking in the paintings and this makes them more mindful of their actions and interactions. It is therefore a more pleasant atmosphere to be part of.

The Dreams exhibition is amazing and really draws you in to Van Gogh’s life and his experiences with mental illness. As you walk through you are taken through different scenes with a voice(s) constantly talking you through and you can hear the internal battle Van Gogh experienced. Gaugin and Laval in Martinique was a bonus and I enjoyed a lot of their paintings from their time in Martinique and it was a refreshing break from Van Gogh.

The Van Gogh collection is spread over 3 floors and is great to see as it also highlights the artists and paintings which influenced his art. It takes us through his family and friends, his life and his struggles. It was clear from the crowds around the paintings which ones were highlighted in the media device (€5 for adults) so it was hard at times to see the most popular paintings, however I always find the least known are generally more interesting for me.

It took just over an hour to go around which could have been due to fewer people being around as they were spread over 3 separate exhibitions. There is a painting set up across a whole wall where you are encouraged to take a selfie and interact with the museum by posting your photo on their social media sites. This was certainly very popular for selfies and those just wanting to take a photo.

Anne Frank Huis: This was a museum I really wanted to visit but again hadn’t realised that I would need to book online and when I tried to do so on my first night here, I found the all possible dates and times during my stay were booked out. I’m OK with this as I’m sure I’ll return to Amsterdam at some point either during these 2 months travelling or at a future time especially as Eurostar was so good. This time I had to settle for just seeing the front of the museum and the people waiting to go in.

Homomonument: Although this isn’t a museum, it is important to include it here especially as it wasn’t highlighted as something to see. This is a monument of 3 triangles in the square near to Anne Frank’s house and it is a memorial commemorating all gay men and lesbians who had been persecuted due to their sexuality. The memorial consists of 3 large pink triangles made of granite, set into the ground to form a larger triangle on the bank of the Keizersgracht canal and near to the historic Westerkerk church. 

#AnneFrankHuis #Homomonument #Rijksmuseum #VanGoghmuseum

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