Art in Amsterdam

There are dozens of galleries and museums in Amsterdam displaying world class art – from classic to modern. Here are some of the best to visit.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

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The best art galleries in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is filled with art - from the glorious design of the city itself, to the museums overflowing with modern and classic masterpieces.

If you're visiting Amsterdam and are interested in seeing some of the works that are held here, I've put together this list of the best art galleries in Amsterdam.

An art gallery is one of those places that should be quiet. You walk slowly, looking at the works on the walls, occasionally stopping front of one that takes your interest for a closer examination.

An art gallery is not the sort of place where you expect someone dressed as a security guard to come up to you and ask for your view on the market economy.

“If you are happy to talk with me and some other visitors about the market economy, I will give you 3 euro,” the man offers.

It’s an interesting proposition and the cash would buy me a coffee. I agree.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

I’m on the second floor of the Stedelijk Museum, one of the best art galleries in Amsterdam. Although the whole museum is focused on modern art, this section is highlighting some of the most contemporary works. I think I have just become a part of one.

The organiser of our discussion ropes in a few more people. One man says he would prefer not to do it.

I suggest that this is a good example of the market economy working well – the money being offered wasn’t worth his time and he was able to choose to walk away.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

Our little group grows and I’m joined by tourists from all around the world. They’re Dutch, British, American, Spanish, Australian.

The conversation flows organically and the very literal examination of market economy turns to politics, then to the influence multinationals have in the political system, then to museums and whether they are democratic or the perfect example of the negatives of a market economy.

For the record, I argue that art galleries are actually not representative of a strict market economy because they allow everyone to see the same works for the same price and prevent the most valuable masterpieces being locked away in private homes for just the wealthy elite who can afford them.

A Dutch woman disagrees with me, saying that the act of curating art and choosing who should be displayed and given prominence is a form of market in itself and doesn’t facilitate true representation.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam
Best art galleries in Amsterdam

I’m not sure who is right (although I probably still think I am) but it’s an interesting idea to ponder. And it’s very appropriate because I am here in Amsterdam with the specific aim to explore art.

To be more exact, I am here in the Netherlands for the 125th anniversary of the death of Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most famous Dutch artists of all time.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

I have been to Amsterdam before but not for any great length of time. And what I have never done before is look at the art scene here in any great depth.

When I began to do that, though, I was amazed to find out how much there is on offer in the city.

It would be easy to spend days and days visiting museums and galleries full of a range of different artworks in various media and from so many different eras.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

To help you get an idea of what you could see for yourself on an art trip to Amsterdam, I’ve put together a list of some of the best art galleries in Amsterdam. There is certainly a lot more than this – but these are the highlights if you want to visit the top ones!

Van Gogh Museum

Considering my mission in the Netherlands this time is to learn about Vincent Van Gogh, I have to put the Van Gogh Museum at the top of this list. It is an incredible collection of the Dutch artist’s work with more than 200 paintings and 400 drawings.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

The museum is well organised into sections that illustrate the different periods of his artistic life and show the other artists who influenced him. There are three floors and the highlights of his career are given prominent displays.

Some of his letters are also shown within the museum and there is a lot of information about his career and personal life.

The Van Gogh Museum is located at Paulus Potterstraat 7, 1071 CX, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

You can see it on a map here.

The Van Gogh Museum is open from Saturday to Thursday from 0900 – 1800.

On Friday it is open from 0900 – 2200.

Entry to the Van Gogh Museum costs €15 for an adult. It’s free for children under 18.

You can find out more information at the Van Gogh Museum’s official website.

Stedelijk Museum

Next door to the Van Gogh Museum is the Stedelijk Museum and it’s worth doing both galleries at the same time. This modern art gallery features works from famous artists like Van Gogh, Matisse, Pollock, and Warhol.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

Most of them are on the ground floor, as is a large section for industrial design over the decades. In my view, the real highlight is the 20th century collection on the second floor. There are hundreds of works of different sizes and media, representing every major art movement of the time.

As I mentioned in the introduction, there are even some surprising performance art pieces happening in these rooms.

The Stedelijk Museum is located at Museumplein 10, 1071 CX, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

You can see it on a map here.

The Stedelijk Museum is open from Friday to Wednesday from 1000 – 1800.

It’s open on Thursday from 1000 – 2200.

Entry to the Stedelijk Museum costs €15 for an adult and €7.50 for students. It’s free for children under 18.

You can find out more information on the Stedelijk Museum’s official website.

Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is the most popular museum in the Netherlands and is just a few minutes away from the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum. It has a huge collection of about a million objects and normally displays about 8,000 of them at any one time.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

For visitors interested in art, the main attraction is the 2,000 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age including many from Rembrandt. There is also a small but fascinating collection of Asian artworks.

The building is incredible in itself and only reopened in 2013 after a ten year renovation.

The Rijksmuseum is located at Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

You can see it on a map here.

The Rijksmuseum is open every day between 0900 and 1700.

Entry to the Rijksmuseum costs €17.50 for adults. It’s free for children under 18.

You can find out more information on the official website of the Rijksmuseum.

Hermitage Amsterdam

The Hermitage Amsterdam is an offshoot of the famous Russian museum of the same name. It hosts several temporary exhibitions at any one time (although each exhibition often runs for more than a year).

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

At the moment, it has an incredible collection of enormous portraits from Amsterdam in the 17th century. They show the different guilds and social groups that controlled the city during the economic height of European maritime trade.

The main room with 35 large portraits is a beautiful sight and a real highlight.

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located at Amstel 51, 1018 EJ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

You can see it on a map here.

The Hermitage Amsterdam is open every day between 1000 and 1700.

Entry to the Hermitage Amsterdam costs €15 for an adult and €5 for children aged between 6 – 16. Children under 6 are free.

You can find out more information on the official website of the Hermitage Amsterdam.

FOAM Photography Museum

There are several photography museums in Amsterdam but FOAM is the best known of them all. It changes its exhibitions regularly to showcase photographers from around the world.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

The building is an old grand house and so the layout takes you through different rooms and levels, creating an interesting way to explore various themes from a single artist.

In a smaller part of the building, some works from local and upcoming photographers are on display and available for purchase.

The FOAM Photography Museum is located at Keizersgracht 609, 1017 DS, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

You can see it on a map here.

The FOAM Photography Museum is open from Saturday to Wednesday from 1000 – 1800.

On Thursday and Friday it is open from 1000 – 2100.

Entry to the FOAM Photography Museum costs €11.50 for adults. It costs €9 for students.

You can find out more information on the FOAM Photography Museum official website.

Even more art museums:

If all of those museums aren’t enough for you (and they would take about two days to see properly), here are a few more to consider.

These are a bit smaller and offer some more niche displays. I would definitely recommend trying to go to one of two of them so you can see the full range of the best art galleries Amsterdam has to offer.

Best art galleries in Amsterdam

Museum het Rembrandthuis

A house where Rembrandt lived and worked for several years. It has a reasonable collection of his paintings and etchings.

The Cobra Museum

Works and information about the Cobra art movement in the 1940s and 1950s, which had creative freedom and social engagement at the heart of its values.

EYE film museum

The building is a stunning piece of modern architecture on the waterfront but is slightly tricky to get to because it is on the other side to most of the tourist sites. It hosts temporary exhibitions about Dutch film and visual arts.

Huis Marseille

A photography museum that has 13 different spaces, each with their own character. It places an emphasis on the visual quality of the images and less on the idea of photography as a mass medium.

THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam is not a cheap city for accommodation but I think it’s worth paying to stay in the city centre.

BACKPACKER

It’s not the cheapest but I think the Generator Hostel is the best backpacker option.

BUDGET

Not your average hotel, CityHub Amsterdam is a cool idea for an affordable ‘room’.

BOUTIQUE

For a great designed boutique hotel, I would highly recommend The Hoxton.

LUXURY

And for cool modern luxury, have a look at the awesome W Amsterdam, with a great location.

23 thoughts on “Art in Amsterdam”

    • Ha ha – yes, I didn’t think it was quite appropriate to include in a list of art museums. But I guess it could have been there, if you think about the artistic quality of those photos! Hmmm….

      Reply
    • There’s a huge variety of art museums and that’s one of the things that makes Amsterdam such a great place for exploring the galleries. You never get bored and always find something new!

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    • I thought the Hermitage was really cool because I didn’t know what to expect. I kind of went in on a whim and loved that enormous room with the portraits. The Van Gogh Museum is fantastic too but it’s probably how you would expect it to look.

      Reply
  1. There are so many museums to choose from in Amsterdam! On my recent fleeting visit, I saw the Anne Frank Museum. I must admit I was more than a little intrigued by the Heineken Museum and the Sex Museum, but I saved them for another day…

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    • I can sometimes be a put off by museums too if I think they’re just going to be full of information I could have read in a book. But I do like art galleries because you can’t get the same effect from seeing a photo. There’s something really transfixing about seeing the world’s best artwork in person.

      Reply
  2. What a great round up of museums! I have been to the main ones, but didn’t have much time to get off the tourist trail as I was only there over a weekend…. and I was 20 at the time… so I might have had other priorities as well being in Amsterdam…. haha

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    • Ha ha – I know what you mean! 🙂
      Most people probably only go to the main ones because they are only in Amsterdam for a couple of days. But if you get the city pass for a few days, you can go to lots of the museums for free – just pop in for 30 minutes and have a look as you’re passing by.

      Reply
  3. The vast majority presumably just go to the fundamental ones since they are just in Amsterdam for two or three days. In any case, on the off chance that you get the city go for a couple days, you can go to bunches of the galleries for nothing – simply pop in for 30 minutes and observe as you’re cruising by.

    Reply
  4. Amsterdam is truly fantastic destination to visit, these many art galleries and museums, really interesting, I feel connecting with art forms is completely personal and intuitive, your introduction is really evocative. Thanks for sharing the most wonderful post.

    Reply

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