New canal museum in heart of Amsterdam
"To the Amsterdam canals, all my heart I shall pledge..." Those are the opening words of a Dutch song made famous by cabaret singer and cultural icon, Wim Sonneveld.
Each year, some three million tourists take a canal cruise to view Amsterdam’s ring of canals from the best vantage point: the water. Now, before embarking on their boat tour, they can first visit the latest in an impressive list of Amsterdam museums – The Canal House Museum (in Dutch, Het Grachtenhuis Museum).
Located in one of the most striking mansions on the Herengracht, the museum will open in mid-April. Supported by audio-visual footage, it will serve as a gateway to discovering the cultural, historical and architectural heritage of the almost four-centuries-old ring of canals.
Drainage, security, trade
The permanent exhibition features the construction of the canals during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century, when Amsterdam was a booming trade city full of wealthy merchants. The ring is a striking example of highly-organised urban planning. Because the city was built on marshy land, the canals initially served as drainage systems.
The canals also played a role in Amsterdam's security. Whenever the city expanded, a new canal was constructed to protect residents from attacks. Later, they also had a commercial purpose when they were used for transporting goods.
Amsterdam’s canals and cultural history are the most important reasons given by 1.5 million tourists for visiting the city, according to the museum’s website.