The Netherlands may be a small country, but it has some of the most famous museums in the world. On top of all the impressive art museums which display art by internationally renowned artists, there are also plenty of other unique and educational museums across the country, delving into a variety of different topics and hosting a range of fascinating and informative exhibitions.
In fact, recent years have even seen the Museum of the Mind in Haarlem and the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in Leiden beat our dozens of institutions across the continent to be named European Museum of the Year! If you’re looking for other inspiration for fun and enlightening ideas for family excursions, here are our top picks for some of the best and most interesting museums in the Netherlands.
1. Teylers MuseumIt might not be the most famous Dutch museum, but the Teylers Museum is definitely the oldest! Established in 1778 in Haarlem, the museum has a permanent collection of fossils dating back millions of years, but also displays various artworks and historical and scientific artefacts. The Teylers Museum is definitely one to visit if you like a museum building which has just as much history as the works within it.
2. Van Gogh MuseumNo list of museums in the Netherlands would be complete without the Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam has a number of world-famous museums, but the Van Gogh is probably the most beloved and widely-visited one of all. It was officially opened by Queen Juliana in 1973, displays almost 100 of Van Gogh’s portraits, landscapes and still lifes, and welcomes over 2 million visitors every year!
3. Kröller-Müller MuseumAnother must-see for any fans of Vincent Van Gogh, the Kröller-Müller Museum is a private museum located in the heart of the Veluwe – one of the Netherlands’ richest national parks. It has a collection totalling over 2.000 works of art, including iconic pieces by acclaimed artists such as Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondriaan, and Van Gogh. In fact, one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, The Potato Eaters, is on display here.
4. MauritshuisHonouring the artwork of the Dutch Golden Age, Mauritshuis has a controversial history due to Prince Johan Maurits’ role in the Netherlands’ colonial history and the slave trade, but today is certainly one of the Netherlands’ unmissable museums. With a collection of almost 800 paintings, the museum houses the Royal Picture Gallery in a gorgeous setting right in the heart of The Hague, around the corner from the Dutch government.
5. Museum Panorama MesdagThe Museum Panorama Mesdag is a museum unlike any other, allowing visitors to see art from a truly unique perspective. The purpose-built museum is located in Scheveningen and is home to Panorama Mesdag: a 14-metre high cylindrical painting by the Dutch marine painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag. Visitors view the artwork from an observation gallery that creates the illusion that they’re standing on a dune overlooking late 19th-century Scheveningen.
6. Nederlands OpenluchtmuseumThe Nederlands Openluchtmuseum (Dutch Open-Air Museum) in Arnhem offers a great day out for the whole family. Spend an afternoon walking through the 44-hectare museum park that takes you on a journey through the history of the Netherlands. Not only is a trip to this museum guaranteed to be educational, but the gorgeous scenery and historic buildings also make a great backdrop for any Instagram photos!
7. Rijksmuseum Another museum in the Dutch capital (and literally only a stone’s throw away from the Van Gogh Museum), the Rijksmuseum probably offers one of the richest collections of any Dutch museum. As the national museum of the Netherlands, it is dedicated to Dutch history and art, displaying everything from Rembrandt’s Night Watch to the stern of HMS Royal Charles. It would take you hours to explore the whole 8.000-piece collection, which includes over 2.000 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age.
8. MadurodamThis is another fun one that’s sure to keep the little ones engaged throughout their visit. Located in The Hague, Madurodam is an attraction displaying miniatures of various Dutch cities and landmarks, allowing visitors to visit the whole of the Netherlands in just a few hours (kind of). Everything on display is a maximum of 60 centimetres high, meaning that everyone can marvel at these 1:25 scale model replicas of famous hotspots including Schiphol Airport, the windmills at Kinderdijk, and the Dom tower in Utrecht.
9. The Mondrian HouseYet another world-renowned Dutch artist, the Mondrian House in Amersfoort celebrates (as the name suggests) the life and work of Piet Mondrian. Established in 1994 in the home where Mondrian was born, the museum makes use of various audio and visual installations to bring the artwork to life and has a to-scale model of the artist’s studio in Paris.
10. muZIEumThe muZIEum in Nijmegen uses modern technology in a truly unique way, allowing visitors to experience what it is like to be blind or partially sighted. The museum experience will “open your eyes” through tours offered in complete darkness, forcing visitors to rely on their other senses to take in their surroundings.
11. Royal Delft MuseumDelft Blue China is known and recognised around the world, and the Royal Delft Museum, located in the earthenware factory in Delft that is still in use today, unveils the history and techniques behind this major Dutch export. Visitors can also peruse the royal collection – the collection of delftware owned by King William III since 1887 – and replicas and examples of building ceramics produced between 1880 and 1930.
How many of the museums on this list have you visited? Did we miss any out? Share your favourite Dutch museum with us in the comments!