It’s not hard to find the world-class art museums in Amsterdam, as this Dutch metropolis simply teems with them. The hard part is carving out enough time—or deciding which museums to visit first—while you’re in the city.
Amsterdam’s status as a great art city, housing globally famed institutions with an astonishing array of masterpieces, is indisputable. Among these museums, the Rijksmuseum reigns supreme, showcasing iconic works like Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. The Van Gogh Museum, dedicated to the brilliant post-impressionist painter, contains a mesmerizing collection as well, including the master’s legendary Head Of A Skeleton With A Burning Cigarette.
Amsterdam’s best art museums will offer you the opportunity to plunge your art-loving soul into the beauty and creativity that have helped define this city’s cultural landscape.
Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdam is one of the best art cities in the world, and the Van Gogh Museum is big on the list of any art aficionado. The museum is housed in a striking, modernist building with clean lines, lots of glass, and a minimalist silhouette.
As you stroll around the museum, you’ll be treated to the life and works of the Dutch post-impressionist painter, Vincent van Gogh. You’ll be able to take in some of his most celebrated masterpieces, including Sunflowers and Self-Portrait With Grey Felt Hat.
The museum’s wide-ranging collection also features personal letters, sketches, and artifacts offering insights into Van Gogh’s artistic journey. You’ll learn about his turbulent emotional and personal life, which cost him his left ear but also fueled his wild creativity.
The Rembrandt House Museum
The Rembrandt House Museum, in the city center, is an Amsterdam art museum that lets you roam through the 17th-century home and art studio of the Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn.
While exploring the living spaces here, and the main studio where the master worked (plus the smaller studio for his students), you can admire many of the artifacts that surrounded this renowned painter during his lifetime.
Inside the museum, you’ll find Rembrandt’s etchings, various engravings, some of the master’s paintings, art by his students, busts, sculptures, drawings, and assorted pieces from his wide-ranging personal collections (brushes, fossils, seashells, and more).
One of the best museums in Europe, Rijksmuseum is located inside a massive 19th-century red brick building. The structure, a gorgeous repository of Dutch history and art, boasts neo-Gothic and Renaissance architectural design elements, along with carvings, pointed arches, and graceful spires.
The museum is part of Museumplein, or Museum Square, where you’ll also find the Moco Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, and plenty of other institutions dedicated to the arts.
Among the enormous collections here, you can marvel at masterpieces like The Night Watch by Rembrandt, along with his The Jewish Bride.
Other notable paintings include The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer, and Woman Reading a Letter by Johannes Vermeer, painted in 1663.
Beyond these celebrated works, the museum’s galleries showcase an extensive range of Dutch Golden Age paintings, sculptures, and historical artifacts, which should give you some insight into the history of Dutch art, and how it has influenced Dutch culture (and vice-versa) over the years.
The STRAAT Museum numbers among the best art museums in Amsterdam. This cool-looking space, inside and out, is located in the vibrant NDSM Wharf area, a former shipyard turned into a trendy cultural district.
Head to the STRAAT Museum for a world of multi-hued, dynamic street art that gives off a strong graffiti, mural-style vibe. If you’re a fan of contemporary art, you can take in pieces here by well-known artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and Invader (a French street artist).
The museum’s outdoor space is an effervescent canvas too, constantly evolving with new artworks, while the indoor exhibitions will provide you with a deeper understanding of the street art movement, detailing some of its history over the last few decades.
The STRAAT Museum is full of large, electrifying canvasses adorning the walls, which exude the artistic expressions and ethos coming from the streets. This is one Amsterdam art museum you won’t want to miss.
The Stedelijk Museum, nicknamed “the bathtub” due to its unique design, is another great art museum located inside the Museumplein cultural district.
The Stedelijk Museum features an impressive collection of contemporary art. The institution showcases masterpieces by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Piet Mondriaan, and Kazimir Malevich (a Russian avant-garde artist)—as well as works by Andy Warhol, Matisse, Jackson Pollock, and other titans of modern art.
Clearly, the curators at the Stedelijk aren’t afraid of mixing artistic styles among their collections. The Stedelijk itself comes with a distinctive architectural design. The modern structure features a smooth, minimalist aesthetic, plus a white, tubular extension, which is where the nickname “the bathtub” originates.
If you appreciate variety in the creative arts, the Stedelijk will keep your imagination thoroughly engaged during the entirety of your visit.
One of the best art museums in Amsterdam, which happens to be focused on photography, along with different types of visual storytelling techniques, is FOAM, located in the city’s canal district.
This dynamic museum hosts rotating exhibitions that show off the works of emerging and established photographers. As you explore the different spaces here, you can jump into a world of eye-catching imagery, which will likely give rise to thought-provoking narratives inside your head, all brought to life through innovative visual styles.
While FOAM’s exhibitions are swapped out regularly, in the past, this institution has featured works by photographers like Masahisa Fukase, Vivian Maier, William Eggleston, and more, making it a go-to destination for photography buffs and art lovers.
The Jewish Museum
Located in Amsterdam’s former Jewish Quarter, the Jewish Museum has made a home for itself among a cluster of four historic Ashkenazi synagogues.
The Jewish Museum in Amsterdam will offer you a moving exploration of Jewish art, history, and culture in the Netherlands. You can delve into the vital fabric of Jewish life in the region thanks to a pair of permanent exhibitions, along with rotating exhibitions, different artifacts, and interactive displays.
The museum’s ceremonial objects, paintings, and contemporary art reflect the Jewish experience in Amsterdam. This institution also includes the Jewish Historical Children’s Museum, which engages younger visitors with hands-on activities and immersive storytelling, reflecting life inside a traditional Jewish home.
The Zaans Museum
One of the best art museums near Amsterdam is the Zaans Museum, located at Zaanse Schans, a living, open-air museum about 12 miles north of the center.
Zaanse Schans, along the banks of the Zaan River, is a lovely Dutch village that will offer you an exquisite collection of well-preserved historic windmills and wooden houses, showcasing traditional Dutch craftsmanship.
The Zaans Museum itself hosts a variety of rotating art and photo exhibitions featuring images and art from the region around the Zaan River.
The permanent display, Art from the Zaan Region, features both new artistic works, as well as historical pieces, including De Voorzaan en de Westerhem by France’s Claude Monet.
The museum also houses a variety of still life paintings from artists like Jan Verkade, along with other types of displays, like the Verkade Experience, covering chocolate and biscuit-making from the beginning of the twentieth century.
EYE Film Museum
If you love film and the art of photography, Amsterdam’s EYE Film Museum, with several different-sized cinemas on site, should delight the cinephile living inside of you.
You can attend lectures on film here, explore the museum’s permanent exhibition covering the history of cameras and cinema, and enjoy a fun collection of films, posters, and memorabilia highlighting the evolution of moviemaking over the decades. You also find a gallery dedicated to experimental filmmaking.
One of EYE Film Museum’s most outstanding features is its panoramic view of the city from its futuristic, eye-shaped building. Beyond the spellbinding architecture, the museum hosts regular screenings of all types of films, from modern works to restored older movies.
Whether you’re a film enthusiast or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam won’t disappoint.
H’ART Museum/Hermitage Amsterdam
The Hermitage Amsterdam—now rebranded as the H’ART Museum—rests along the scenic Amstel River. This institution is set to offer you a fascinating voyage of global art and culture.
The museum, housed in a historic 17th-century building known as the Amstelhof, underwent some big directional changes in 2022 and 2023.
In the past, many of the works on display here, like The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt and The Conestabile Madonna by Raphael, came from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg—but official ties were cut with St. Petersburg in 2022.
The museum is now forging new international partnerships with institutions like the British Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and France’s Centre Pompidou. This rebranding effort will bring a variety of world-renowned art collections to the H’ART Museum.
The Moco Museum in Amsterdam (you’ll also find one in Barcelona, Spain) is an important stop for anyone interested in contemporary art. The museum resides inside a historic townhouse known as Villa Alsberg.
Located on the Museumplein, the Moco Museum will offer you an electrifying exploration of pop art, street art, and modern art. This forward-looking museum showcases an array of iconic works by popular artists like Banksy, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Some of the pieces you can revel in here include an un-shredded version of Banksy’s Girl with Balloon; Andy Warhol’s famous Dollar; the wood sculpture Final Days by KAWS (an American artist), plus many more.
The Moco Museum’s dedication to pushing artistic boundaries and celebrating alternative creative movements makes it a highlight for anybody who wants to immerse themselves in the realm of modern art.
For an Amsterdam art museum that focuses on the city’s history, swing by the red-brick Amsterdam Museum, located in a former city orphanage, for a cultural journey into the past.
The Amsterdam Museum is home to an extensive collection of artifacts, paintings, and interactive exhibits that trace the evolution of the city from its early origins to the bustling urban center that it is today.
Highlights include paintings of the 17th-century Civic Guards in the Amsterdam Gallery; an exhibition providing insight into the building itself, which operated as an orphanage for centuries; as well as paintings, photos, and other objects that will give you a sense of how this great city evolved over the centuries.
Frans Hals Museum
Just to the west of Amsterdam, about 20 minutes by car, you’ll find Haarlem, a town filled with pretty canals, fun shops, and chic cafés—all of which are worth visiting in their own right.
In Haarlem, you’ll also come across the Frans Hals Museum, an institution dedicated to the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age of art.
This distinguished museum, founded in 1862 inside a former oude mannenhuis (old men’s almshouse), is home to an exceptional collection of paintings, including Regents of the Old Men’s Almshouse by the Dutch Golden Age painter, and local boy, Frans Hals the Elder. The museum, obviously, was named for Frans Hals.
Alongside Hals’ masterpieces, you can explore a range of Dutch art from the 17th century, with many of this museum’s works created by Haarlem-based artists.
The museum comes with a picturesque courtyard as well, where you can relax for a spell after exploring this “golden” slice of Dutch history.
Cobra Museum of Modern Art
The Cobra Museum of Modern Art, in the picturesque city of Amstelveen, just south of Amsterdam, will present you with a wonderful exploration of avant-garde art from the Cobra art movement, plus several other associated movements.
The Cobra movement emerged in Europe in the aftermath of World War II. Cobra artists aimed to break free from traditional norms, embracing spontaneity, primitivism, and a childlike approach to their work. Their creations were known for their vibrant colors and abstract shapes.
Inside this museum, you can engage with experimental creations by artists like Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, Lucebert, and others. The Cobra Museum of Modern Art is a must for contemporary art enthusiasts, offering a unique opportunity to experience bold and expressive post-war Cobra-influenced works of art.
Read: Three Days in Amsterdam
Book a cruise to Amsterdam for a chance to immerse yourself in Dutch culture, along with the soulful art you’ll discover at fantastic institutions like the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, FOAM, and many more.