Want to uncover the rich history of this great city? The Dutch Golden Age – and much more of its heritage – shows itself in places where only few people look. Here are five little-known museums that give you a unique look into the city’s history and culture:
Museums that capture the history of Amsterdam
1. The Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age
Amsterdam was (and still is) one of the most prosperous places in the world. While in the 17th century much of the Western world was ruled by dynastic families and church leaders, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands was in the hands of the bourgeoisie.
The group portraits showing these life-size urban elites are rarely seen because they’re HUGE. Now, for the first time, many of the Night Watch’s siblings are being displayed together.
Among other unique artworks, this impressive exhibition in the northern wing of the Hermitage showcases civil life in the Golden Age that helped form the Amsterdam and Dutch society as we know them.
Hermitage Amsterdam, Amstel 51, Amsterdam. Tickets from €15. Open daily from 10:00 – 17:00.
2. Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder
Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, Amsterdam. Online tickets soon available with Tiqets. Open Mon – Sat from 10:00 – 17:00, Sun from 13:00 – 17:00.
3. Het Scheepvaartmuseum
Amsterdam and the Netherlands owe everything to the sea – from their land to their riches. At the National Maritime Museum you’ll get to know the Dutch nautical spirit through epic sea battles and maritime expeditions.
The museum itself is a renovated 17th-century marvel of architecture – with a beautiful inner courtyard, interactive exhibitions (for kids!) and a docked replica of an East Indies Company ship.
And the Scheepvaartmuseum is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a special exhibition called ‘Drive’, on until the 2nd of July 2017. From children’s toys to golden coins – this exhibition explores the human drive to collect things. Four full rooms of memorabilia!
Scheepvaartmuseum, Kattenburgerplein 1, Amsterdam. Tickets from €15. Open daily 10:00 – 17:00.
4. The Jewish Cultural Quarter
Here you’ll learn about the Jewish influence on the history of Amsterdam. Since the Golden Age, Jews have played an important part in the city’s identity and economy.
The area that makes up the Jewish Quarter is filled with buildings and monuments – from the synagogue that has remained unchanged since the 17th century (and is still in use!) to the ‘Hollandsche Schouwburg’, the powerful national holocaust monument.
Jewish Quarter, Amsterdam. All-access tickets from €15. Open daily from 10:00 – 17:00.
5. Het Grachtenhuis
With the flourishing of Amsterdam during the Golden Age came the Canal District. The waterways, which are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage list, are a marvel of human architecture and Amsterdam’s most distinctive feature.
The Museum of the Canals, or ‘Grachtenhuis’, is the ultimate compendium for anyone who wants to know more about Amsterdam and its famous waterways. From interactive exhibitions on the history of the grachten to the role they play in today’s Amsterdam, there’s plenty here for you to dive in.
Het Grachtenhuis, Herengracht 386, Amsterdam. Tickets from €12. Open daily 10:00 – 17:00.
Bonus! A history of the Red Light District
The world-famous Red Light District isn’t the first place where you’d look for a telling story on Amsterdam’s history. But De Wallen has been around for as long as the city itself, and it’s filled with intimate stories.
By taking a tour of the Red Light District with a professional guide, you’ll get to see the real Red Light District – not just the one that attracts masses of tourists. Hear accounts of daily life and visit hidden gems: ancient churches and traditional architecture that remain unspoiled (because most tourists visiting the area have other things in mind).
Meet your guide at Dam Square, see map for details. Tickets from €17,50. Tour starts daily at 20:00.
Want to find out what else captures the history of Amsterdam? Have a look at our website.