A guide to the best Dutch museums.

Basically the first thing you should do after entering the Netherlands (ok you’re allowed to smoke one joint first 😉 ) is go and get yourself a MuseumCard. They allow you entrance into almost any museum in the country without having to stand in line and cost only about 60EUR.

Once you’ve figured this thing out, get a Public Transport Chip Card (yes, everybody hates these things, but what can we do) and you’re all set for one of the best proper Dutch activities: take trains to visit museums all over the country!

Here’s a list of all my favorite museums that you can visit for free and roughly what they’re about. I’m a bit of a museum-nerd, so there are a lot, for convenience I listed them per Province, with a link to their own websites and a star for my absolute favorites. (Oh, in case you’re wondering, those are the flags of the provinces) Enjoy 🙂

Drenthe

  • Drents Museum – Assen
    One of the oldest museums of the country and the go-to place for archaeology-lovers.
  • Hunebed Centrum – Borger
    Prehistoric farmers built interesting grave-monuments as megalithic graves.
  • International Clog Museum – Eelde
    Over 2000 different types of clogs and other wooden shoes from 43 countries and with the original craftsman tools.
  • Print museum – Meppel
    With everything you ever wanted to know about printing and binding books the old-fashioned way.
  • Kids-world Museum – Roden
    Filled with old (1700-1950) toys like dolls, doll-houses, mechanical toys, board-games, train-sets and tin soldiers.

Flevoland

  • Safetymuseum – Almere
    The world of police, firemen and ambulances in one big interactive experience.
  • Aviodrome – Lelystad
    A fascinating journey through the history of aviation.

Friesland

  • Botanical garden the Herb-courtyard – Buitenpost
    The biggest herb-garden of the country with seventeen theme-gardens, each with their own collection of plants.
  • Beach-combers museum – Buren (Ameland island)
    Special stories and trophies of fisherman and beach-combers from this island.
  • Ceramics museum Princes-court – Leeuwarden
    Famous for its extensive collection of Asian, European and modern ceramics.
  • Fries maritime museum – Sneek
    A museum about the history of Frisian shipping from the 17th till 20th century and water- and ice-sports.

Gelderland

  • Loo Palace – Apeldoorn
    Used as a summer-home for our royals through three centuries and now open for the public. Check out the stables and garden too.
  • Holland Open Air Museum – Arnhem
    Pure Dutch history in this big museum-park: old crafts, a shipyard, beer-brewery, windmills, a dairy-farm and historical trams.
  • National Liberation Museum – Groesbeek
    Between these hills and woods lie dioramas, original film footage and music to take you through the liberation of the Netherlands after WWII.
  • Valkhof – Nijmegen
    Art from the Middle-Ages till the 20th century, with the biggest collection of Dutch pop-art.
  • Kröller-Müller – Otterlo
    Amidst the stunning Veluwe national park, with a great art-garden and loads of Van Gogh. Take a bike there through the park.

Groningen

  • Museuquarium Delfzijl
    In this WWII bunker you can find all the treasures of the North Sea, with plants, animals, boats and other artifacts.

Limburg

  • Thermal Museum – Heerlen
    The remains of a 2000 year old Roman bath house.
  • Hoensbroek Castle – Hoensbroek
    One of the largest castles in the country with 40 fully furnished rooms like the ballroom, dungeons and 60m high medieval tower.

Noord-Brabant

  • MOTI – Breda
    The dynamic world of the picture shown and explained with film, design, photography, fashion, art, architecture, science and gaming.
  • Van Abbemuseum – Eindhoven
    One of the most spectacularly designed museums and leading in contemporary art with a collection including Picasso and Chagall.
  • De Pont – Tilburg
    Probably my favorite museum, housed in a former wool mill. The private collection of contemporary art includes more than 600 works and there are several temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
  • Textile Museum – Tilburg
    Inspiring exhibitions in the field of design, art and heritage, educational programs and specialized workshops are all held in this former factory.

Noord-Holland

  • St Laurens Church – Alkmaar
    This Gothic basilica is 35m high and has a very special painting of the Last Judgment on the wooden vault above the choir.
  • Cobra Museum – Amstelveen
    The Cobra movement was a breakthrough in modern art and here is the most important collection, including work by Appel and Corneille.

  • Amsterdam Pipe Museum – Amsterdam
    Manages a collection that is unique in the Netherlands and Europe, giving an overview of the smoking culture of the five continents of five hundred years.
  • Anne Frank House – Amsterdam
    Anne Frank and her family hid here in WWII for more than two years. Quotes from the diary, historical documents, photographs, film images, and original objects. Very impressive.
  • Old Church – Amsterdam
    One of the first structures of the city, embedded in the ramparts and now basically part of the red-light district but twive a year home to exhibitions of world-renowned contemporary artists.
  • Diamond Museum – Amsterdam
    Learn all about carbon atoms, specialists who transform rough stone into sparkling jewels and how to distinguish a real diamond from imitation.
  • EYE – Amsterdam
    Eye-catcher by the water behind Central Station, this spectacular building annually presents four major exhibitions on movie and film.
  • FOAM – Amsterdam
    The place to be for photography-lovers. From documentation to fashion, contemporary to historical, famous to new talent. Inspiring, small, uncomplicated but critical and free every Thursday at 18:30.
  • Hermitage – Amsterdam
    This amazing building is home to the ever-changing collection of the best and biggest museum in the world: Hermitage of St Petersburg. Only big names in here.
  • Hollandsche Schouwburg – Amsterdam
    This theater was a deportation center for Jews in WWII and is now a monument in memory of the victims with a wall bearing the names of 6,700 of the 104,000 Dutch-Jewish victims.
  • Rijksmuseum – Amsterdam
    Walk between all the Dutch masterpieces and make sure to pay attention to the beautifully renovated building while you’re at it.
  • Stedelijk – Amsterdam
    An international institution dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design with a collection considered one of the most important in Europe.
  • Ships in bottles – Enkhuizen
    With the biggest collection you’ve ever seen and how to make one yourself/
  • Teylers Museum – Haarlem
    History of science, physics and biology combined in an authentic building.
  • Fort Island Pampus – Muiden
    Take the ferry for 25 minutes from Muiden to get to this old fort island and take the fun interactive audio-tour.

Overijssel

  • Tin figures museum – Ommen
    Just like the real world, but only 30 millimeters high with tin figures depicting fairy tales and myths.

Utrecht

  • Kade – Amersfoort
    Everything modern: art, architecture, design and contemporary visual culture.
  • National Military Museum – Soest
    About the significance of the army and other armed forces for the Netherlands in the past, present and future.
  • Railway museum – Utrecht
    In an actual old train-station stands the first steam locomotive of the country and way more.

Zeeland

  • Zeeuws Museum – Middelburg
    Located in a medieval abbey in the center of town, with contemporary presentations of archaeology, regional costumes, paintings and silver.
  • Flood museum – Ouwerkerk
    The flood of February 1953 is a black page in the history of the Netherlands. More than 1,800 people drowned. This place gives a picture of the events during and after the flood.

Zuid-Holland

  • Statues by the sea – Den Haag
    The museum for sculpture lovers. The subject of the permanent collection is human images. The outside part is in the sand-dunes and especially lovely.
  • GEM – Den Haag
    Part of the Hague Municipal Museum and the collection represents contemporary art in form of (cideo) installations, painting and sculpture to film, photography and drawings.
  • Municipal Museum – Den Haag
    Just the building is worth a visit and it’s home to the biggest Piet Mondriaan collection in the world, among other prints, crafts, music and fashion.
  • Louwman – Den Haag
    The world’s oldest private collection of automobiles includes more than 230 antique and classic cars.
  • Mauritshuis – Den Haag
    The best Dutch and Flemish art from the Golden Age. Make sure to check the monumental ceiling paintings and have a piece of cake.
  • Panorama Mesdag – Den Haag
    The largest painting in the Netherlands, 360º look around and experience the Scheveningen at the end of the 19th century. With its 14 meters and a circumference of not less than 120 meters to the cylindrical painting evokes a magical illusion of reality.
  • Hortus Botanicus – Leiden
    Diverse gardens, both inside and out, to wonder about the rich nature.
  • Windmill museum – Leiden
    Provides information about the history and technology of grain grinding mills. With original grinding mechanism, which is also occasionally still in operation.
  • Ethnology museum – Leiden
    This is basically a museum about people, from all over the world. The enormous cultural diversity in human themes such as mourning, celebrating, decorating, praying and fighting.
  • Boijmans van Beuningen – Rotterdam
    A journey through the history of art of the early Middle Ages to the present. One of my absolute favorites.

6 thoughts on “A guide to the best Dutch museums.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *