This is where you'll find the largest collection of art in the Netherlands. The world-famous Rijksmuseum opened back in 1885 and houses so many priceless pieces, including four Vermeers and 40 Rembrandts. The gothic and Renaissance-style building sits proudly in Museum Square.
Other highlights include the selection of fascinating Asian art in the airy new pavilion, its collection of early 18th-century dollhouses and a garden filled with Golden Age gateways – the perfect place to wander in the sunshine, coffee in hand, after taking in the delights at the museum.
2. Street art
Amsterdam takes street art to the next level. Murals and graffiti by talented artists add splashes of colour in unexpected places, lending the city’s streets an extra, secret dimension. One of the highest concentrations of street art in the city belongs to NDSM-Werf. There’s a free ferry which will take you to Noord, from where you can take a stroll amongst the industrial buildings. Remember to bring along your camera.
Street art is so important in Amsterdam that you’ll also often find it adorning the walls of some of the hippest cafes and bars in the city. For example, DeBajes, in Rembrandtplein, features work from well-known artists like The London Police and Ox Alien.
3. Van Gogh Museum
There’s nowhere better to admire the life and work of Van Gogh, as this museum features 500 drawings and 200 paintings from throughout his career as part of a permanent collection. Some of the most famous include Almond Blossom (1890), Self-Portrait as a Painter (1887-1888) and The Yellow House (1888).
As well as work by Van Gogh himself, you’ll find temporary exhibits dedicated to his contemporaries, which reveal both the influences on his work and his far-reaching impact. Recently, an exhibition exploring the connections and parallels between David Hockney and Van Gogh was showcased. Make sure to arrive early to avoid queues, and if you’re visiting on a Friday, keep an eye out for lectures and events in the evening.
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This historic house in Jodenburt, in the centre of the city, has been lovingly restored to reflect how it might have looked when Rembrandt owned it back in 1639. After he went bankrupt and was forced to sell it, clerks took an inventory of the house – and it’s this document that has been used to faithfully recreate the artist’s original home.
On your wanderings through the house, you’ll discover antique furniture from the 17th-century, and sculptures and ornaments that Rembrandt himself collected. There are also plenty of the artists’ rough etchings to take a look at it – a fascinating comparison to his paintings at the Rijksmuseum.
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Photography enthusiast? Then the Foam photography museum is a must-see spot in Amsterdam. It’s situated in an atmospheric old canal house, and highlights emerging and established talent in the Netherlands and beyond. Don’t know where to start? Opt to join one of the free tours, which run daily.
At the moment at Foam, there is an exhibit on Scheltens & Abbenes, the most progressive still life photographers in the Netherlands today. You'll see things that we encounter in daily life with a different view. There's also find a history of food photography, bound to tantalise your taste-buds – so we recommend eating before your visit!
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6. Stedelijk Museum
You can’t miss the Stedelijk Museum, with its striking extension that’s shaped like a bath. It houses an impressive collection of modern art, and you’ll find it just around the corner from the Van Gogh Museum. We think the pre-war collection on offer here is equally thought-provoking, featuring works by Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse.
In fact, there are over 90,000 works of art at the Stedelijk, so allow yourself a full day to properly immerse yourself. Highlights include the Malevich Collection, which explores the geometric abstract art that came about in the years between the two world wars.
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7. EYE Film Institute
The EYE Film Institute is housed in what is perhaps one of the most unusual buildings in the city – futuristic, angular and white, it dominates the skyline at the northern waterfront (to reach it, just hop on a free ferry). This is Amsterdam's premier destination for film and cinematography.
Inside, you’ll find exhibits detailing the precursors of film, genuine photos from famous movie sets and cinematic artefacts and early technology. There are also regular movie screenings, and the EYE Bar Restaurant, where you can stop for coffee or enjoy an atmospheric dinner with views of the IJ Harbour.
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