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Amsterdam Museums

The Netherlands is affectionately known as ‘the land of museums’ and Amsterdam alone has over 42 museums displaying a vast array of history and artefacts.  Visitors interested in art, sex, erotica, hash, torture, maritime transport, diamonds, religion, the holocaust, beverages, flora and fauna, theatre, archaeology, science and technology are all well catered for.

The most touching, true story and personal account is that of Anne Frank’s house located at Prinsengracht opposite 296.  Anne Frank was a 14-year-old Jewish girl growing up during the Second World War.  The house, now a museum open to the public, is a reminder of what happened to so many Jewish families during the holocaust.  Visitors are able to walk through the house and even climb up to the secret annexe where Anne and her family hid for so long from the Nazi’s prior to their capture.  During that time Anne kept a diary which a family friend later had published, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.  For more information about living in Amsterdam during the years of German occupation, An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum is about a young Jewish woman living in Amsterdam prior to her death at Auschwitz.  More information about the Jews and their history may be found at the Jewish Museum (Joods Historisch Museum) at Jonas Daniel Meijerplein 2-4.

Other more shocking but on some accounts, humorous, artefacts may be found in the Torture Museum, located near Muntplein on the left bank of the Singel canal.  It is a small but confronting documentary of human cruelty displaying instruments used on prisoners throughout the medieval times for crimes we would today regard as petty.

The Tulip Museum also on Prinsengracht (112) just over the bridge from Anne Frank’s house may offer solace after appreciating such terror as that experienced by Jewish families during the holocaust and medieval prisoners.  The tulip is the floral symbol of the Netherlands and the museum presents the history of the cultivation of the tulip including the tulip mania of the 17th century.

On a lighter note, the Sex Museum – Temple of Venus is located just in front of Centraal Station on the way to Dam Square consists of a rich collection of art, photography, sculptures, plates and other wares displaying the beauty of human sexuality.  Once in the mood, the Erotic Museum in the heart of the Red Light district is sure to provide pleasure if not a good laugh.  It displays a series of John Lennon’s lithographs, erotic photography, and an adult version of ‘Snow White and Seven Dwarfs’ is projected in a separate room.  There is even a vending machine holding the most unusual condoms for sale for those who wish to purchase in public!

The Hash, Hemp and Marijuana Museum at Oudezijgs Achterburgwal 148, presents convincing displays about the various constructive uses of hemp such as fuel, clothes and paper.  According to the museum, one hectare of cannabis plants can make the same amount of paper as four hectares of forest.  The hemp seed also produces oil which is good for many things including human health.  Once upon a time it was illegal not to grow a plant of cannabis for the government and it is only due to international pressure that it is officially illegal in Amsterdam.

If the controversy proves too much or information overflow builds up a thirst, the Vodka Museum at Damrack 33 in front of Centraal Station features the history of Russian Vodka.  There is an amazing collection of old vodka bottles in timeline order in addition to a wide selection of vodka from all around the world for sale in shots on the spot at the elegant Museum bar.

A bigger thirst may send visitors to the Heineken Brewery further out at 78 Stadhouderskade.  Brewery tours are held each weekday in the morning for a donation which is given to several different charities.  Amsterdam’s brewery was Heineken’s first, opened in 1864, and the tour guides visitors through the whole brewery process including the old brewing facilities and a beer museum.  Cold beers are served in a large drinking hall overlooking the city at the end of the tour.

After a short break in the many coffee shops all over Amsterdam, art lovers should never miss the opportunity to view Vincent Van Gogh’s Museum at Paulus Potterstraat 7, which is home to the world’s largest collection of the most important Dutch artist of the 19th century in chronological order.  Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art is close by on Paulus Potterstraat 13.  Other art museums include Rembrandthuis Museum on Jodenbreestraat 4-6 and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s largest at Stadhouderskade 42.

These are just some of Amsterdam’s museums but of all, the Amsterdam Historisch Museum at 92 Kalverstraat is the best designed.  The former orphanage exhibits 700 years of the city’s history with a focus around the Golden Age of Amsterdam in the 17th century.  It was during this time that the city flourished as the richest city in the world.  Some of the exhibits even included actual traded goods which contributed to its success of the time.

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June 1, 2010 - Posted by | Travel & Tourism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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