Last Updated on 2nd May 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path while in the Dutch capital of Amsterdam then you might consider visiting a museum or two. Here are 7 small museums in Amsterdam you must see. From the simple to the quirky, to the simply weird, we’ve got you covered!
As a city of a thousand canals and nine centuries worth of history, it’s clear that Amsterdam is well worth a visit. Set against a backdrop of windmills and tulip fields, the city is known worldwide for its numerous museums. As a result, no trip to the city would be complete without a forage into one of its many galleries throughout the city. For more ideas on things to visit during your trip to Amsterdam, be sure to check out the ultimate Amsterdam bucket list.
#1 Museum Willet-Holthuysen, Herengracht 605, 1017 CE Amsterdam, Netherlands
What? A house museum which was first built for an Amsterdam Mayor in the late 1600s. In the late 19th Century, the house was revamped, and fitted with luxurious fittings in keeps with the style of the time- Late French Renaissance. The last owner of the house, Louisa Holthuysen, bequeathed the house and its contents to the city of Amsterdam upon her death.
Why you should visit: From the landscaped garden out back (manicured to within an inch of its life) to the large selection of fine art on the walls, everything about this museum gives you a glimpse of what life would have been like in the 1860s. In actual fact, the dining table is still set as it would have been all those years ago, and as if the family were about to come home for dinner…
#2 Houseboat Museum (Woonbootmuseum) Prinsengracht 296K, 1016 HW Amsterdam, Netherlands
What? A small Houseboat that has been transformed into a museum. A trip here is quick and easy, making a visit here the perfect introduction for life living on Amsterdam’s canals. Originally built to transport sand and travel along the city’s waterways, the boat was turned informed into a house in the 1960s. It has been open to the public as a museum since the late 90s.
Why you should visit: Amsterdam is often cited as ‘the Venice of the North’. And with its numerous waterways and canals, it’s not hard to see why. A trip aboard the 1914 freighter (and a literal ‘step’ onto one of Amsterdam’s canals) is a quirky and unique experience.
#3 Rembrandt’s House (Rembranthuis), Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011 NK Amsterdam, Netherlands
What? The famous artist Rembrandt lived here in the house between the years of 1639 and 1656. The famous artist whose many works are on display in the world-famous Rijksmuseum, a must see Amsterdam attraction, only left the house when he became bankrupt.
Why you should visit: Of all the small museums in Amsterdam on this list, Rembranthuis is probably the best known. However, this lovely house museum just had to be mentioned! Located on Jodenbreestraat, Rembranthuis isn’t far from the town hall. (And the rest of the area is well worth a look around if only to see plenty more 17th-century architecture).
#4 Cat Cabinet Museum (KattenKabinet), Herengracht 497, 1017 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands
What? This quirky museum is an ode to all things cat. Yes, like the furry animal. From drawings to paintings and even sculptures, quite literally everything you see in the museum is related to our feline friends. There are even artworks by great masters including Rembrandt and Picasso.
Why you should visit: A museum dedicated to all things cat-related. Need I say more?!
#5 Amsterdam Museum Kalverstraat 92, 1012 PH Amsterdam, Netherlands
What? No trip to the city, and indeed no post about small museums in Amsterdam, would be complete without mentioning at least one museum following the history of the settlement. Previously known as the ‘Amsterdam History Museum’, today the museum is simply called the ‘Amsterdam Museum’. The site of the museum is on what was once an orphanage for children who had lost their parents to the Plague in the 16th century.
Why you should visit: The museum documents almost a thousand years worth of history and shows both the positive and negative sides of Amsterdam. Here, you can learn about the city’s varied history and how the city came to be the way it is today.
#6 Our Lord in the Attic, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, 1012 GE Amsterdam, Netherlands
What? One of the oldest museums in Amsterdam, Our Lord in the Attic (known in Dutch as ‘Museum Amstelkring Ons Lieve Heer op Solder’), is a fairly substantial church, located in the attic of a 17th-Century house.
Why you should visit: This is easily my favourite museum in Amsterdam, and once there, you’ll see why! This incredibly unusual museum is in the very middle of the Red Light District and welcomes around 85,000 visitors annually. It’s a Catholic ‘clandestine’ church, meaning that it was built in secret at a time when the rest of the city was converting to Protestantism.
#7 Museum of Bags and Purses, Herengracht 573, 1017 CD Amsterdam, Netherlands
What? A museum dedicated to all things bags and purses. Set in a canal house dating all the way back a few centuries, the museum traces the history of bags over the past five hundred years.
Why you should visit: Paris, London and New York may be best known for fashion, but Amsterdam still has its fair share of designers, shops, and fashion culture. Within the museum, you can also enjoy a ‘high tea’. This comprises of teas, a selection of cakes and sandwiches. These are served in 17th and 18th-century rooms with painted ceilings.