With 75 museums, Amsterdam has the highest centration of museums per square meter of all cities in the world. We can only suggest a few of the major museums here. You can find a list of other museums on the city official Tourist Information website and also here.
Art-lovers will definitely want to spend the afternoon in the Van Gogh Museum, the world’s largest collection of this extremely popular painter. The Van Gogh Museum is housed in a building that opened in 1973 and then expanded with an ultra-modern curved wing in the rear that doubled the display area and created room for special exhibits. If one keeps score with dollars, as our society loves to do, then he is the greatest painter ever, since recent auctions of his works have commanded record millions.
You will be swept away by the brilliance of this unique artist, so it is definitely worth an effort to get over to the museum, located two blocks behind the Rijksmuseum. Trams 2 and 5 from the Dam will also bring you here.
The main Van Gogh collection includes over 200 of his paintings, organized chronologically, and many more drawings, along with some works by his contemporaries.
You will probably want to spend two hours or more exploring the exhibits. It is open from 10-6pm daily and costs 7 euro for admission. You can see most of the pieces, and an elaborate 3D virtual tour, on their very informative web site.
Van Gogh and the Stedelijk are located on Museumplein, along with the Rijksmuseum.
This modern art museum, Stedelijk Museum, next door to Van Gogh, focuses on the 20th century and is another exciting destination for the art-lover, depending on whatever special exhibit is going on at the time. They do have a small permanent collection of works by Mondrian, Man Ray, Matisse, Picasso and other modern masters, but the main attraction is always the special exhibit, which changes every couple of months.
The collection of the Stedelijk Museum - Museum of Modern Art consists of approximately 90,000 works of art and objects, from 1870 to the present day. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, photography, film and video, installations, works on paper, artist's books, applied art, and industrial and graphic design. With major art movements such as Bauhaus, the Amsterdam School , De Stijl, CoBrA, abstract expressionism, pop art, minimalist art and conceptual art all represented, the Stedelijk Museum offers a great overview of modern and contemporary art , design and architecture .
In addition to the large halls for exhibitions, the appearance of the museum itself has also changed considerably during the renovation: the building no longer looks away from the Museumplein , but rather looks out on it. The impressive foyer and restaurant look inviting and there is a futuristic-looking new wing , designed by Benthem Crouwel Architects , who Amsterdammers also call the 'bathtub'.
Amsterdams Historisch Museum is in the center of town at 92 Kalverstraat, with an outstanding collection that thoroughly covers the history of the area with entertaining displays in many different media. You can get a feeling for the museum by viewing their excellent web site, complete with dozens of little flash movies that illustrate the growth of the city and take you on a walk through the different galleries. Exhibits on three floors include suits of armor, ceramics, household utensils, paintings, statues, tapestries, and everything else you could imagine that make up the story of Amsterdam, plus there is a lovely garden courtyard café in the middle of this 16th century building, which used to be an orphanage.
Rembrandt lived and worked in the house between 1639 and 1656. The 17th-century interior has been reconstructed. The house shows how it would have looked in Rembrandt's days. Adjoining the house is a modern building where works by Rembrandt are on display, including a good collection of his etchings, but no original paintings.
Two elegant mansions in the center have been converted into museums that provide a glimpse into 19th century domestic life of the mercantile upper class. The larger choice is the Museum Willet-Holthuysen, at 605 Herengracht, open daily from 10-5.
Built in 1685 and occupied until 1895, the ten rooms on two floors are filled with original furnishings and art works, laid out as if the owners just stepped out for a moment. The double mansion has many period rooms. There are salons in Neo-Louis XVI style and the garden is designed as a symmetrical French style garden. It is now one of the locations of the Amsterdam Museum.
Upon exiting, turn right on Herengraacht and walk a block to the cross canal, Reguliersgracht, then cross the bridge and stand in the middle to count the number of bridges you can see in each direction. Would you believe 15? These canal intersections are always fun to look at because you have bridges and water views in all directions. It does help to have a good map while you are walking.
Two blocks away you will find the Museum van Loon at 672 Keizersgracht, even more delightful than the previous mansion, open daily from 10am-5pm. It too has period rooms filled with original furniture, porcelains, paintings and sculpture.
This beautiful residential house was built in 1672 and still exudes the atmosphere of the wealth that the city experienced at that time. In the rooms you will find portraits, beautiful furniture, fine silverware and porcelain from different centuries. Behind the house is a beautiful garden. The garden has been laid out in the style of the 17th century and is closed off by the beautiful gable wall of the coach house.