From art and history to diamonds and cats, here are some of the most famous and unique museums the Netherlands has to offer.
Despite being a relatively small country, the Netherlands boasts a huge variety of museums that reflect all aspects of Dutch art, culture, and history. In fact, Amsterdam alone is home to more than 50 museums, many of which are famous throughout the world. With such a high density of museums, it is hardly surprising that these institutes cover an impressive range of topics, centering on everything from famous art and historical milestones to modern science and cinematography. With so many museums to choose from, however, knowing which are worth visiting can be a challenge. With this in mind, we’re here to help whittle down the options with our pick of the best museums in the Netherlands to satisfy all interests.
But before we do, here’s a little tip. If you’re planning on staying in the Netherlands for a significant amount of time, it might be worth investing in a Museumkaart. This handy card costs €64.90 and grants you unlimited access to over 400 museums in the country for a year, which can work out much cheaper than buying individual tickets.
Want to explore the best of Dutch culture? Then check out online ticketing platform Tiqets and buy tickets to top museums, attractions, and cultural events throughout the Netherlands. Whether you purchase them in advance or last minute, you can get digital tickets instantly sent to your phone with no fuss.
1. The Rijksmuseum
Located in the heart of Amsterdam Museumstraat, the Rijksmuseum houses one of the most impressive art collections in the world and should be included on the trail of all art lovers. Some of the most famous works of art from the Netherlands are housed here. These include masterpieces by the Old Masters of the Dutch Golden Age; namely Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, Rembrandt’s Night Watch, and Van Gogh’s Self-portrait. The museum covers a whopping 30,000 square meters spread across four floors and is also home to around 8,000 objects on display. These include sculptures, glass, Delftware, furniture, clothing, and archaeological artifacts dating back 800 years. Needless to say, there is more than enough to fill an afternoon visit.
The Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam
2. Van Gogh Museum
Also located on Museumplein in Amsterdam, the Van Gogh Museum is another essential stop for those interested in Dutch art. Here you can find most of Van Gogh’s work, including 200 of his paintings and 500 of his drawings. These include his most famous works Sunflowers, Almond Blossom, and The Potato Eaters, plus many of his earliest self-portraits. The permanent collection also includes important works by van Gogh’s 19th-century contemporaries including Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Monet at the museum. There are often temporary or visiting exhibitions which concentrate on the same time period. This includes the 2020 exhibition ‘Your loving Vincent’, which offers a unique opportunity to see Van Gogh’s greatest letters alongside his masterpieces.
Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam
3. Anne Frank House
No story about the Nazi witch hunt and genocide of the Netherlands’ Jewish population during World War II is more famous than that of Anne Frank. Over a million visitors per year come to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam to see where Anne went into hiding with family and friends to escape the Nazis. It was within the confines of the hidden annex, concealed behind a movable bookcase, that she wrote her world-renowned diary. Walking through the tiny 75-meter-square space allows visitors to gain a sense of what her life must have been like during those 2 years in hiding. A collection of personal belongings, family portrait photos, and Anne’s original red-checked diary helps to convey her inspiring story. The museum is only open to visitors who reserve a time slot between 9:00 and 15:00.
Anne Frank House, Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam
4. Frans Hals Museum
Located in the charming medieval city of Haarlem, the Frans Hals Museum houses the most famous 17th-century paintings by the renowned Dutch Golden Age painter, Frans Hals. The Frans Hals Museum is actually divided over two locations, following the merging of the Frans Hals Museum and De Hallen Haarlem. The two sites are within a short, scenic walk from each other through Haarlem’s historic center. The famous artist specialized in painting people, from the wealthy citizens of Haarlem to less prominent people such as the village idiot, drunkards, laughing fishermen, and children playing the flute. Visitors can see some of his most famous paintings from the Golden Age hang alongside contemporary art installations, allowing them to view them in a totally unique way.
Frans Hals Museum – Hof, Groot Heiligland 622011 ES Haarlem
5. NEMO Science Museum
Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the NEMO Science Museum is the largest science center in the Netherlands and one of the most popular museums in the country for curious minds. The museum presents a different scientific theme on each of its five floors, beginning with an exploration of DNA and chain reactions; look out for the giant dominoes and flying car. From here, visitors can move up through the different levels of the building to discover several key highlights including a science lab, a display about the human mind, and a performance hall where movies about science are screened. The top floor also features a café which offers a fantastic view of Amsterdam down below. The NEMO Science Museum is also one of the most popular museums in the Netherlands among families.
NEMO Science Museum, Oosterdok 2, 1011 VX Amsterdam
6. Kröller-Müller Museum
Located in the beautiful Hoge Veluwe National Park, one of the largest nature reserves in the Netherlands, the Kröller-Müller Museum is home to the second-largest Van Gogh collection in the world. Almost 90 of his paintings and more than 180 of his drawings can be found here. The enormous collection belongs to German art collector Helene Kröller-Müller, who recognized his talent early on and spent her life garnering his artwork. The museum also houses other priceless pieces by a wide range of Old Masters, from Claude Monet to Piet Mondriaan as well as a beautiful garden features over 160 sculptures. The museum, along with the stunning nature reserve, remains one of the most popular places to visit in the Netherlands.
Kröller-Müller Museum, Houtkampweg 6, 6731 AW Otterlo
7. Zaans Museum
For the ultimate insight into Dutch culture and history, fewer places in the Netherlands are more unique than the Zaans Museum. Located in the famous neighborhood of Zaanse Schans, the open-air museum recreates a Dutch village with wooden houses and windmills dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Visitors can learn about daily life in the Zaan region over the centuries. This includes everything from exploring displays of regional Dutch costumes and model windmills to watching artisan workshops on wooden clog carving and barrel making. At the heart of the Zaans Museum, the Verkade Experience also features exhibits on chocolate and biscuit making. Needless to say, there is plenty to fill a visit.
Zaans Museum, Schansend 7, 1509 AW Zaandam
Mauritshuis, situated at Plein 29, The Hague, is an intimate museum set in the 17th-century palace of a Dutch count. It contains a small but impressive collection of more than 200 Golden Age art treasures, such as Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. The building itself features silken wall covering, sparkling chandeliers and monumental painted ceilings.
9. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen at Museumpark 18–20, Rotterdam, is one of the oldest in the country. This eclectic museum provides a history of art: from the Middle Ages to the 21st century, both Dutch and international. It houses paintings by the likes of Pieter Bruegel and Jan van Eyck, Rene Magritte and Salvador Dali as well as sculptures and everyday objects. The collection of prints and drawings is internationally acclaimed.
10. Groninger Museum
The Groninger Museum, located at Museumeiland 1, has a very varied collection. They focus on the history and culture of the city and province of Groningen, 17th-century drawings as well as modern art. Their collection of Oriental ceramics is among the most important in the country. The museum also pays special attention to temporary exhibitions, which range from David Bowie to Gabriel Lester.