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With more than 50 museums, compact Amsterdam packs a big cultural punch. From long-established institutions famous around the globe to lesser-known hidden treasures, the permanent and temporary collections here offer art, history, the unexpected and the unusual. In recent years, photography and multimedia exhibitions have also been booming.
First-time visitors will likely want to visit some Amsterdam's most famous museums. The Rijksmuseum houses masterpieces of Golden Age glory. Marvel at Vincent's visible brush strokes and his uneasy life at the Van Gogh Museum. The exceptionally moving story told at the Anne Frank House is somber yet inspirational. The recently renovated Hermitage Amsterdam features the fortunes of Czarist Russia. See how the city's most famous resident lived at the Rembrandthuis. And be one of the first inside the new state-of-the-art space for modern and contemporary art when the acclaimed Stedelijk Museum reopens at the end of 2009.
Built in 1876 according to a design by architect P.J.H. Cuypers, the Rijksmuseum is the biggest museum of the Netherlands. It features a famous collection of works by Rembrandt (the Night Watch), Vermeer and Frans Hals as well as delftware, sculpture, Asian art and prints.
A visit to the Van Gogh Museum is a unique experience. The museum contains the largest collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh in the world. It provides the opportunity to keep track of the artist's developments, or compare his paintings to works by other artists from the 19th century in the collection. The museum also holds an extensive offer of exhibitions on various subjects from 19th-century art history.
The historic interior of Rembrandt’s house has been restored to its former glory and furnished with items and works of art from the master’s time. Wandering through the seventeenth-century rooms, visitors can imagine themselves back in Rembrandt’s day. Feel Rembrandt’s presence in the room where his son Titus was born, the workroom where he printed his etchings, the works of art he collected and, of course, the master’s studio. If you want to find out about the real Rembrandt, you can meet him in the Rembrandt House.
Tired of pushing past people to see Golden Age paintings? Amsterdam's smaller museums are hidden cultural treasures. Have a penchant for purses? Consider the Tassenmuseum (Bag Museum). Museum Het Schip is a stunning example of Amsterdam School architecture, while Museum Willet-Holthuysen is the only fully restored canal house that's open to the public daily. Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (also called Museum Amstelkring), within walking distance of Central Station, is tucked away in the attic of a building. Founded in the Protestant-dominated 17th century, this secret chapel would host Catholic mass. The Jewish Historical Museum (JHM) displays objects and artifacts related to the religion, culture and history of Jews in the Netherlands. Part of the museum is designed especially for children, where they can learn about the life of a typical Dutch Jewish family. Here it's explained why Jews should not eat certain products and why it is sometimes more acceptable to make noise than to be silent.
Amsterdam's Red Light district covers a large area of the oldest part of the city. Dating back to the 14th Century when sailors arrived in need of some female company, the district is full of sex shops, brothels, gay bars, and museums of one kind or another. The “special” museums that must visit in Amsterdam (fairly crap to put it blunt but you have to see them anyway) are:
The "Venustempel" in Amsterdam is the world's first and oldest sex museum. A leading museum on the theme of sensual love with an extensive collection of erotic pictures, paintings, objects, recordings, photographs and even attractions.
Collection of erotic art throughout the centuries from the old masters to contemporary artists. A varied offer including sculptures, pottery, paintings, drawings, photographs and other visual material.
The Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum offers visitors extensive documentation and historical facts about today's use of the cannabis plant as well as about its medicinal, religious and cultural applications. In addition, attention is given to the importance of cannabis to the environment, agriculture and industry. The museum shows that hemp has evolved to become one of Man's most valuable raw materials used in farming.