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Article by Helen Suk, originally published in the Atmosphere magazine. Read the latest edition here.
Tulips and wooden clogs may be synonymous with the Netherlands, but in Amsterdam museums take the spotlight, featuring historical exhibits and the works of both Dutch and international artistic giants. If you are an art lover or a history buff, make yourself at home in these five Amsterdam museums.
After 10 years of sweeping restoration and modernization efforts, this internationally renowned art museum re-opened its doors in 2013, grander than ever. Step back in time and come face-to-face with the historical masterpieces of the Dutch Masters, including Vermeer, Jan Steen and Frans Hals. The museum’s most prized treasure, however, is The Night Watch, the world-famous painting by Rembrandt van Rijt.
But there is more to admire at the Rijksmuseum: contemporary art, Delftware pottery, sculptures, photography, archaeological artifacts, an Asian pavillon and meticulously crafted doll houses.
Rembrandt House Museum
If you experience Rembrandt withdrawal after the Rijksmuseum, make your way to the Rembrandt House Museum for a rare glimpse into his everyday life. This restored 17th-century house is where the master painter lived at the height of his career. Step into his studio, the birthplace of some of Rembrandt’s most famous paintings, or browse the collection of his personal possessions and 260 etchings.
Anne Frank House
She lived in hiding for two years with her family but today, Anne Frank is known around the world as one of Amsterdam’s most famous inhabitants whose story has touched the lives of millions. That story comes to life at the Anne Frank House, her former home and now a museum—a powerful and sobering reminder of Jewish persecution by the Nazis during World War II. Enter the Secret Annex behind a bookcase where she spent her days in fear and silence before being discovered and sent to her death at the age of 15. It also displays her original diary—the centrepiece of the museum—encased in glass.
Van Gogh Museum
Home to the world’s largest collection of works by Dutch impressionist giant Vincent van Gogh, one of the greatest painters in history, the Van Gogh Museum proudly features 200 of Van Gogh’s paintings, 500 of his drawings and 700 of his letters. Admire his most influential masterpieces, including The Sunflowers, The Bedroom in Arles and The Potato-Eaters. This year, 2015, will see commemoration events with special exhibitions to mark the 125th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s death.
Amsterdam’s answer to New York’s MoMA, the Stedelijk Museum houses a rich, world-class collection of contemporary art, with 90,000 pieces on display. Here, you can travel through the world’s most influential modern art movements such as Bauhaus, Nouveau Realisme, abstract expressionism and pop art and discover the works of artistic icons, including Picasso, Matisse, Pollock and Kandinsky.
For inspiration and insight, you won’t want to miss these Amsterdam museums. There’s simply no other city with this volume and diversity of artistic treasures.