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5 Unique museums in Amsterdam you need to visit

5 Unique museums in Amsterdam you need to visit

This Dutch city is known for brownies and Van Gogh, but here are five unique museums in Amsterdam that should be on your radar

Though the Rijksmuseum trumps the list of art fans (and pretty much every tourist) visiting the Dutch capital, Amsterdam’s “anything goes” and progressive attitude is reflected in some of the city’s most unconventionally fascinating cultural attractions. Here are five intriguing museums you’ll definitely want to add to your itinerary. 

Kattenkabinet (Cat Cabinet) 

Cat Cabinet

If it wasn’t for the black-and-white sign hanging above the door of Herengracht 497, you might easily walk past the Cat Cabinet, a charming museum dedicated exclusively to the role of cats in art. Situated in a stately 17th-century patrician’s home on the Golden Bend (one of the wealthiest areas in the city), the museum was founded by Bob Meijer.

"If you’re lucky, you may even get to stroke one of the resident cats!"

He purchased and renovated the mansion in 1985 and opened the museum five years later in honour of his cat, John Pierpont Morgan (yes, named after the American banker). Every five years, Meijer gifted the pampered feline a piece of art, including the first work that launched the collection: a beautiful portrait drawn by Aart Clerkx in 1981.

Gracing the sumptuously furnished rooms, you’ll find paintings, drawings, sculptures, posters and more, paying tribute to our feline friends. If you’re lucky, you may even get to stroke one of the resident cats! 

Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic) 

Our Lord in the Attic - Museums in Amsterdam

Despite the reputation of being a tolerant country, as of 1578, Catholics were not allowed to practise their religion openly in the Netherlands. The solution was to attend Mass in clandestine churches or schuilkerken. These hidden churches were quite common in Amsterdam during the Golden Age, and one of the finest examples is Our Lord in the Attic, tucked away at the top of a monumental house located on Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38-40.

Soon after moving into the house in 1661, Catholic merchant Jan Hartman had the attic renovated to create a spacious church that could seat up to 150 people. Especially striking are the Baroque altar and imposing altarpiece, painted by Jacob de Wit in 1716.

Before climbing the narrow stairs that lead to the church, take time to admire the beautiful family rooms decorated with period furniture and the museum’s collection, which includes devotional objects gathered from Amsterdam’s hidden churches. 

STRAAT 

STRAAT - museums in Amsterdam

Since its opening in October 2020, STRAAT, the world’s biggest museum for street art and graffiti, has made it its mission to showcase the diversity of talents, backgrounds and stories of what can rightfully be called one of the century’s leading art forms.

Housed in an imposing national monument—the NDSM wharf’s 8,000m² Lasloods warehouse—the museum’s permanent collection is divided into thematically grouped quarters and features approximately 160 artworks (and counting) by more than 150 international artists. You won’t have the feeling of being indoors as you admire these massive canvasses, most of them created on-site with the same techniques and materials used outdoors.  

"STRAAT has made it its mission to showcase the diversity of talents, backgrounds and stories"

One of the sections of the museum showcases how artists have been inspired by the Netherlands or Amsterdam, drawing links to Dutch culture, such as noteworthy buildings, food and the old masters. According to curator and creative director, David Roos, “Showing street art this way does away with the taboo of it being just a rebellious art form and emphasises how rich its history truly is.” 

Fashion for Good Museum 

Fashion for Good Museum - museums in Amsterdam

Fashion for Good is more than a museum. Opened in 2017 and situated on Rokin 102, it’s a platform for innovation and collaboration seeking solutions to steer the fashion industry away from the “take-make-waste” pattern which has hugely impacted our environment.  

Divided into three levels, the museum’s “Fashion for Good Journey” takes visitors from the past into the future of “Good Fashion”. Using a sustainable bracelet equipped with RFID technology, you’ll be able to interact with the exhibits and create your own “Good Fashion Action Plan”. At their interactive studio, you’ll even get the chance to design the world’s most sustainable T-shirt.

Before leaving, head to The Good Shop, a unique concept store featuring innovative collections from small and large brands centred around a theme that changes regularly. 

Houseboat Museum 

Houseboat museum - museums in Amsterdam

Originally built as a freighter in 1914 and moored on Prinsengracht since 2007, the Houseboat Museum gives visitors an idea of what life is like on one of these unique floating homes. In Amsterdam, houseboats come in all shapes and sizes, and there are approximately 750 in the city centre alone—from the basic and modest to the more elaborate and luxurious. Some have even been turned into hotels.  

"In Amsterdam, there are approximately 750 houseboats in the city centre alone"

The Hendrika Maria, as the vessel was christened in 1923, has a decent-sized living space measuring 80m², which is more or less equivalent to the average small apartment in Amsterdam. Step inside and marvel at the surprisingly spacious interior authentically furnished with vintage items, a charming wood burning stove and typically Dutch old-fashioned enamel kitchenware.

The living room has various seating areas, including a pleasant reading corner, complete with comfy armchairs and a nicely stocked bookshelf. There’s a big chance that a visit may just leave you yearning to trade dry land for life on the water

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