The Dutch capital is famous because of its tulip-reputation, the naughty red-light-district, legal joints, and the artsy Rijksmuseum. But Amsterdam has so much more to offer! In this guide we will highlight Amsterdam’s most unique museums, so you can experience the city as never before! We will finish the guide with some useful tips that you can take into account when you are planning on going on a city trip to Amsterdam.

1. Eye Film Museum

Across the waters on the IJ-side of Amsterdam Central Station, you will see an architectural masterpiece. The Eye Film Museum is located on Amsterdam’s IJ harbor in a futuristic building designed by Delugan Meissl Associated Architects. The film museum focusses on the history of the Dutch film industry and the latest contemporary films and projects originated from various countries.

Eye Museum Building - Museum Guide GowithOh

With more than 40.000 films from all genres from different countries EYE is internationally known for its knowledge of and expertise in the field of film restoration, research, and education. If you are visiting Amsterdam, Eye Film Museum is definitely worth a visit. Even if you do not have time to see a film you can enjoy a cup of coffee in the Eye restaurant and watch the boats entering the harbor of Amsterdam.

What Is the Story of the Museum?

In 1952 the Eye Film Museum was founded by the Dutch Historic film Archive, an organisation with the goal to restore preserve and produce “historically important recordings”.

In 1972 the film museum moved to the Vondelparkpaviljoen in the Vondelpark of Amsterdam. This location had two small cinemas and with over 150.000 visitors per year, an amount that was increasing, the museum had to move again.

In 2012 the Film Museum moved to its current location. A merger between the Film Museum, Holland Film, the Filmbank, and the Netherlands Institute for Film Education made it possible to move to this stunning building and landmark.

The Highlights

Building

In April 2012 opened the Dutch Queen Beatrix the new building of the film museum on the northern IJ bank in Amsterdam. The building, designed by the Viennese architects, is a feast for the eyes. Its interaction with its surroundings and the geometry is very special; no wall is parallel for example.

Silent Films

Eye film Museum houses a very special and extensive collection of silent films. Some of them are one of the first films ever made dating from the late 19th century. A highlight is thus “The Adopted Brother”  by Christy Cabanne and D.W. Griffith dating back from 1913.

Desnet Collection

Another highlight is the Desmet-collection. Jean Desmet was the first big distributor and cinema exhibitor of the Netherlands. The collection was retrieved between 1907 and 1916 and mainly consists of films, posters, photographs and business records. In 2011, the collection was included in UNESCO’s List of the World Memory.

Fun Facts

Amsterdam has a very soft and sandy soil, so soft that whole Amsterdam is built on pillars. And so is the building of the Eye Film Museum build on 348 piles. Besides these piles consists the construction out of more than a thousand tons of futuristic bent steel.

The name “Eye” of the film museum has a double meaning, besides it refers to your eyes that you need to watch films it is also a pun on the water to which it is situated. The name is the IJ, pronounced like eye too.

The architects of the building, the Delugan Meissl architects, are specializes in buildings that appear to be in motion. An example besides the Eye building is the building of the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.

How Do You Get to the Museum?

Practical Information Eye Film Museum Amsterdam - GowithOh

Opening Hours

Days Times
Sunday until Thursday 10.00-22.00
Fridays and Saturdays 10.00-23.00

 

 

*The Exhibitions have different opening hours

2. Diamond Museum

When Marilyn Monroe sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, she confirmed many girls’ desire. In Amsterdam on the Paulus Potterstraat you will find in a modern and large villa the Diamond Museum

Crown Diamand Museum Amsterdam - Museum Guide GowithOh

If you love expensive shiny things, you should definitely pay a visit to this small museum next to the Van Gogh Museum. The museum showcases the history of diamonds, the most important stones including crowns and other jewellery and real goldsmiths and diamond cutters will explain you how these sparkly stones are crafted.

Why a Diamond Museum?

Amsterdam was a junction in the 17th century, as one of world’s most important centres of diamond production and trade. In that time the Jews were scared away from the catholic more southern countries, while the Netherlands who was in a Protestantism movement, was open for other religions and cultures, and so lots of Jews flight to the capital. With them they brought a lot of knowledge and craftsmanship in diamond polishing.

When in the 19th century South Africa, filled with natural diamonds, fell into the colonial hands of the Netherlands, the diamond trade reached its most glorious days in Amsterdam.

Coster Diamonds is one of Amsterdam’s diamond polishing and trading firms that still exists and that was founded in that glorious time (1840). They are also the founders of the Diamond Museum, in which they want to show their beautiful stones and show you the history and stories on how the diamond became not only a symbol of wealth, but plays an important role in beauty and power.

The Highlights

Shiny Sword

Between all the diamonds there is one object that is even more breathtaking tan the others. The Diamond Museum has an original adorned with diamonds Katana Sword. These traditional swords were used by the samurai of feudal Japan.

Rembrandt Diamond 

Between all those shiny jewelry there is a 42.27-carat black diamond called the Rembrandt Diamond. Its name comes from its presentation near the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam by the Rembrandt specialist Gerry Schwartz. It took more than three years to cut the brilliant-cut black diamond from a rough crystal of 125 carats!

Sparkly Skull

The museum has also some replicas or some articles that are made by inspiration. A definite highlight is the Ape skull with over 17.000 Brilliant cuts, inspired by Damien Hirst’s “For the Love of God”. Which was a platinum 18th century human skull endorsed with 8,601 diamonds.

Fun Facts

Diamonds always used to play roles in mythical and magical stories. For example in the ancient times, the Romans and Greeks believed that diamonds were tears cried by their gods, or that the tokens were pieces of falling stars.

Did you know that the element that diamonds are made of, called allotrope, a form of the element carbon is actually an unstable element? This means that line by line they transform to Graphite! No panic this process is so slow that humans will not notice the transformation

For the real diamond lovers the Diamond Museum offers a Basic Diamond course. In this course they will show you first the museum and teach you the basics. After the tour the intricacies of polishing and cutting a diamond are being thought to you by an actual craftsman on a real diamond that you can take home after!

How Do You Get to the Museum?

Practical Infromation Diamand Museum Amsterdam - GowithOh

Opening Hours

Days Times
Every day 09.00-17.00

 

 

 

3. Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum

Weed and hemp are two products that make Amsterdam famous and attract lots of tourists every year. The observant reader will notice that we already wrote about a Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Barcelona, this is because the owner of the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam opened a second museum in the Catalan capital.

Marijuana leave Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum Amsterdam - GowithOh

Located in the Wallen, is this museum definitely worth a visit, even if you do not like to smoke one, the information and exhibition is very interesting for a non-user too. The museum is not only focused on the use of the plant for recreational use, it has a medicinal exhibition, will take you back into history, and will show you all the products that can be made out of the hemp plant.

What Is the Story of the Museum?

Ever since the ancient times is Cannabis used for medicinal and recreational use. Its popularity is still increasing and although it is still an illegal drug in most countries, the plant has been more and more legalized or tolerated.

When the Dutch Ben Dronkers started collecting interesting objects from other continents, he never had a deliberate focus to collect world’s biggest collection of cannabis related objects and products. He used to smoke weed when he was younger and when he started travelling and gaining more knowledge about hemp his collection increased.

In 1985 he collected so many artefacts, that he had enough to open a museum, which he successfully did. The goal of the museum is to inform the visitors about the meaning of hash, marihuana and hemp, not only about the coffee shops in Amsterdam, but as a worldwide natural and cultural phenomenon.

The Highlights

Grow Room

One of the impressive parts of the museum is the grow room. This room exhibits multiple hemp plants and shows you how they grow, the smell will surprise you!

Mondriaan

Besides objects and plants, the Hemp Museum also has some beautiful paintings from famous Dutch painters. A highlight is definitely the rare aquarelle of Piet Mondriaan (1872-1944). It is a painting dating back out of his abstract neoplastic period, on the painting you see a lady spinning hemp fibre.

Holy Word

Another noteworthy and remarkable object is the Dutch bible the museum has on display. It is an old bible dating back to 1836 and its paper is made from hemp.

Fun Facts

It is tolerated to buy and to use weed or hemp in the Netherlands for recreational use, they were world’s first country that tolerates the use. The drug tolerance was born around 1970 as an experiment and has always been under pressure and criticism from abroad.

In the earliest human civilizations people thought that cannabis use causes closely “contact with the gods“, this is the reason that cannabis was used in the incense during ceremonial events.

Did you know that Levi Strauss made his first pair of jeans from the hemp fiber? Besides textile or paper hemp can also be used as fuel, it is more environmentally friendly than regular fuel. Hemp fuel emits 80 percent less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, and nearly 100 percent less sulfur dioxide.

How Do You Get to the Museum?

Practical Information Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum - GowithOh

Opening Hours

Days Times
Every day 10.00-22.00

 

 

4. KattenKabinet

A museum for cat art, it might sound funny but the KattenKabinet (Cat Cabinet) is devoted to art-related objects of cats. It was founded by the wealthy Dutchmen Bob Meijer, who wanted to have a museum in memorial for his red tomcat John Pierpont Morgan.

KattenKabinet Amsterdam Museum Guide - GowithOh

The museum is located in old two patrician houses at the Herengracht in Amsterdam, besides paintings, you will find posters, sketches and sculptures of famous names like Picasso, Rembrandt, Théophile Steinlen and Leonor Fini. Besides the permanent collection, the museum collaborates with big art institutions like the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum for its temporary collections.

What Is the Story of the Museum?

The patrician houses, in which the KattenKabinet is located, were built in 1667 for the wealthy Van Loon brothers. After the Van Loon Brothers the houses had quite a few famous occupants, like Jan Calkoen, the mayor of Amsterdam and the American president John Adams.

When in 1985 Bob Meijer bought the house, he restored it to its full splendour, and lived there with his wayward companion was a cat called John Pierpont Morgan. The cat was named after the American banker J.P. Morgan, who was known for his domination of the corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time.

That mister Meijer really loved his tomcat was expressed in the way he celebrated his cat’s birthday. Every five years he gave the cat something special as a gift, like a portrait or statue. When his cat died he wanted to remember his cat and started to collect artistic items that reminded him of his cat. The museum attracts a couple of thousand visitors a year and it even published a real collector’s item; the Kat-alogus, a couple of years ago.

The Highlights

Ceiling paining

The museum is divided into several rooms, one room, the ballroom has an enormous and beautiful ceiling painting dating back to 1670.

Steinlen 

Especially in the Ball Room, you will find lots of the Theohile Alexandre Steinlen’s works. He was born in Switserland in 1859, but moved to France where he became an important Art Nouveau painter and printmaker. A highlight is the painting called “Les Chats” where two black cats and one striped one are depicted.

Picasso Drawing

The museum is in the proud possession of a Picasso drawing, on which of course a cat is drawn. The drawing is an ink sketch called “le Chat” and has a prominent position in the Mechelse Room

Fun Facts

Besides having pictures and sculptures and other artifacts, the museum has 5 living cats walking around in the houses! So there might be a little friend walking with you during your tour through the museum.

The canal houses in which the KattenKabinet is located are just as wonderful from the inside as from the outside. Not without a reason is the space used as décor for the famous film Ocean’s Twelve.

How Do You Get to the Museum?

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Practical Information KattenKabinet Amsterdam - GowithOh

Opening Hours

Days Times
Monday-Friday 10.00 – 17.00
Saturday and Sunday 12.00 – 17.00

 

 

 

 

5. Heineken Experience

On the Stadhouderskade in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, you will find a Dutch Landmark: the Heineken Brewery. This famous brewery was founded in Amsterdam in 1864 and grew to today’s huge multinational company. In the old side of the old brewery is the Heineken Experience located. It is a recent renovated attraction that will allow you to explore the world of the Heineken bottle and beer.

Heineken Brouwerij Heineken Experience Museum Guide - GowithOh

Heineken is one of the three largest beer producers in the world. And that is what you will experience in the experience. There is an exhibition about history, commercials, the production, and much more. It is a great place to visit with a group of friends and to drink a beer after with each other.

What Is the Story of the Experience?

When Heineken closed in 1988 its old brewery in Amsterdam they wanted to re-use the space for a tour for their fans. After a small tour you could drink as much as you want.

From 2007 until 2008 Heineken renovated the building and tour, led by Bob Rogers of BRC Imagination Arts, a company that is focused on experience design from California.  In this new design Heineken is trying to connect people back with the production and history by tasting touching and experiencing it.

The Highlight

Be a Heineken: The highlight of the Heineken Experience is the definitely the multimedia exhibit where you become a beer bottle in the production process. You will be shaken, sprayed, and bottled. And of course after being a beer bottle you get the chance to drink one by the bar at the end of the Experience. The Experience is available different languages so assessable for everybody.

Fun Facts

There are many speculations on the fond of Heineken. One of them is that in 1964 Alfred Henry Heineken, grandson of the original founder, was in charge of the design behind the Heineken beer label. And because in that time the women were in charge of doing the groceries and to make the beer brand more attractive to women , Alfred decided to change the letter “E” a little into a smiling “E”.

The experience has besides the Factory also a horse stable, The Heineken Stables! This old stable is dated from back in the time when these horses and there carriages played a central role in powering the logistics.

You might think that Dutch people drink lots of beer because they have so many popular beer brands, but facts tell us something else. The biggest drinkers on earth can be found in Czech Republic, 132 liters per person, after comes Germany with 107 liters per person and then Austria with 106 liters per person. Therefore is the Netherlands with 74 liters per person a small player.

How Do You Get to the Museum?

Practical Information Heineken Experience Amsterdam - GowithOh

Opening Hours

Days Times
Monday -Thursday 10.30 -19.30
Friday – Sunday 10.30 – 21.00

 

 

Tips for the Museum Lovers

I Amsterdam

 I Amsterdam is an initiative from the municipality of Amsterdam. It is an umbrella brand that informs the visitors of Amsterdam about everything they would like to know. For touristic, business, cultural matters you can go to their website.

What is interesting for you, the museum lover, is their I Amsterdam city card. This pass is available for a selected amount of days and gives you free entrance or discount on almost every museum and attraction. Besides, you can use the public transport for free and you will receive a handy map of the city.

Transport

There are multiple options to buy your entrance for the public transport. The citizens of Amsterdam use the OV-chipcard this is a public transport card that is used for trams buses and metros and is convenient for the longer stay. For the city trippers we recommend the I Amsterdam city card, which gives you free access within Amsterdam to bus, tram and metro or the GVB day passes.

With the public transport system in Amsterdam you have so many public transport choices, that it might be confusing. Check out our transport guide for extra information.

Districts

 Amsterdam has 7 districts, all with their own character. A districts we recommend is the historic city center, here you will find Central station as the main access point to the rest of the city. From here it is easy to go to the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, Dam Square with the Royal Palace, the Nieuwe Kerk and even the red light district.

Another district that we recommend is the Grachtengordel, latterly translated as the belt of canals surrounding the medieval city center. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Side. You will find here The KattenKabinet, the Westerkerk Church, the Anne Frank House and the Nine Streets.

 

Author
At GowithOh, we are an enthusiastic team of self-confessed Europhiles who are passionate about travel. We especially love the variety of city breaks possible in Europe, from the historic UNESCO heritage cities like Prague, to the more cosmopolitan beachside destinations like Barcelona. We love discovering the hidden gems in different cities and sharing them with our fans so everyone can benefit and enjoy the perfect city break in Europe.