When most people think of Amsterdam they think of prostitutes and legal weed and while this is a part of Amsterdam and for some it’s appeal, there’s a whole lot more to the city than this and surprisingly it’s massive in terms of artwork. Having spent three days in the city last month I was lucky enough to have a chance to explore a number of the museums on offer and almost all of them were top quality places to visit. Sadly the sex museum, which was the only place we had to properly queue, was disappointing, although thankfully we only spent 4 euro’s to get in. Here’s five of the must visit museums when you next visit the city.
Red Light Secrets
In keeping with the theme that Amsterdam is about prostitutes the Red Light Secrets museum housed in the Red Light District gives you a closer look at what it’s really like to be a prostitute. The museum is housed in a building previously used in the same way that most buildings in this area are, you can see a mock-up of what the rooms are like, you can stand in a window and look out on a street to know what it would feel like and there’s so much interesting information about prostitution and how the country try to protect the workers. There are some obvious one’s like it’s illegal to not use protection when having sex with a prostitute but did you know that unlike a brothal where you pay for a particular length of time, going to a red lit window just gets you sex and the average length of an encounter is around 6-9 minutes. The museum is a great insight into the industry and for just 14 euro’s it’s a must visit. The museum is open until midnight every night but personally I wouldn’t recommend wondering around that late.
The Moco – The Modern Contemporary Museum – was one thing that we hadn’t actually planned to go to but just kind of stumbled upon as it was close to our hotel and the Van Gogh museum. The Moco has a permenant Banksy exhibition and at the moment a Dali exhibition (I’m not sure if this is only temporary). I had no idea Banksy created indoor art as well so the exhibition itself was a shock but showcased a lot of very well known images which was really interesting, especially as each room was themed with the images inside. Outside there’s also an original piece of Banksy work which happened in Amsterdam and had been preserved by the museum which was a police riot van painted over and it was great to see this. Downstairs there was a slightly smaller Dali exhibition. In honesty other than the melting clock which there was a cast of I didn’t know much of his work but it was thoroughly interesting to read about him and see some of his original art pieces.
Anne Frank Haus
Amsterdam is famous worldwide for being the home of the Anne Frank house where during the second world war Anne, her family and some family friends’ hid out for a number of years’ in an attempt to avoid being sent to a concentration camp, all because they were Jewish. Booking is the most important thing when it comes to the museum as entry before 3.30pm is only by timed tickets and after then you could easily queue for a few hours just to get in, it’s that popular. It’s eerie being inside the real house where Anne and her family lived for all those years especially when things such as the real bookcase which concealed their entrance, photos put on the wall of her bedroom by Anne and the diary itself were there for viewing. It’s a truly remarkable place and something which will really get you thinking about how horrible it must have been during the war for those living through it.
From something famous in Amsterdam to a chain of exhibitions which are on location throughout the world including Montreal Canada, Poland, and Finland among others. The Amsterdam exhibition is all about happiness and it’s effect on the human body from good health and eating right to exercise and reproduction. The exhibition houses over 200 anatomical specimens of real human bodies which have were donated to science after death to show the complexity and vulnerability of the body in regards to happiness. It’s kind of freaky looking at human bodies which have had their flesh pulled off but it’s so interesting especially when you can see real body parts and what really is underneath our flesh. Did you know that only 10% of our happiness is determined by circumstances such as health, wealth, relationship status etc and a whopping 50% comes from genetics, with the remaining 40% being down to our actions and behaviours. This was such an interesting exhibition I’d encourage anyone to go.
To finish off is something inherently Dutch is the Van Gogh museum. Van Gogh was Dutch but not born in Amsterdam instead he was sent to live with his uncle in the city where he completed studies and completed a lot of his work. Firstly it was incredibly interesting to read about his life and how he didn’t actually become famous until after he died and his family members publicized his work, and it was interesting to find out more about the whole ear cutting off incident and how he admitted himself to a mental institute where he continued to create almost one painting a day. Alongside the history there were a lot of original paintings including quite a lot I recognized including the Sunflowers, his Bedroom, some self-portraits and floral images. The museum might seem like a bit of a tourist trap but in honesty, I don’t think you can head to Amsterdam and not visit.
If you’re heading to Amsterdam here are some top tips to maximize your trip.
Do you have any museum or exhibition recommendations?