Creativecommons.org/ Reinoud Kaasschieter
The Dutch National Museum is a treasure house of Old Masters and home to some of the best known pieces by Rembrandt. Rooms full of Delftware, precious metals, amazing ancient costumes and some seriously artistic furniture make up much of the rest of the collection. Don’t miss the 17th century dollhouses that were created as art pieces for adults rather than as toys for kids. The wood sculptures from the middle ages are also quite fascinating.
Van Gogh Museum
Creativecommons.org/ Niek Sprakel
The National Museum has four paintings by Van Gogh, but this museum has the largest Van Gogh collection in the world, including drawings and 700 letters written by him. The main exhibit chronicles his changing style and notable works by Van Gogh’s contemporaries fill in the changing atmosphere around his life. Temporary exhibits showcase masterful works by artists from around the world.
Creativecommons.org/ Iwan Gabovitch
Showcasing modern and contemporary art, the Stedelijk has a very large collection that features some well-known artists. Thanks to some quick-thinking directors the museum managed to acquire the early works of Mondrian, Malevich and De Stijl. Stop in to the refreshment kiosk to see some incredible murals by Karel Appel. There’s also an applied art section and video art to explore.
Museum Van Loon
Creativecommons.org/ Andrea Puggioni
This canal-side mansion dates from the 17th century and has been restored to reflect the opulence and splendour of an affluent family of the early days of Amsterdam. The house itself is worth looking at, but the walls are adorned with less-well-known but still delightful artists’ work. The formal garden at the back of the house is nice to walk through in good weather.
One of the most elaborate of the canal houses, the mansion-now-museum is filled with paintings, ceramics, silver and gold objets d’art. Wander through the rooms and appreciate art as it was meant to be seen – in a home.
Aschenbach & Hofland
One of the best galleries in Amsterdam, owner Gerhard Hofland displays a mix of emerging talent and artists that have established themselves. Some fascinating displays have included Jochen Mühlenbrink's trompe l’oeil works of the backs of paintings, looking as if they have just been unpacked and are still marked with notes and packing tape. Other memorable works have included urban tribal sculptures and geometric abstract pieces that are mesmerizing with their primary colours standing out on the pale walls.
Galerie Fons Welters
For cutting edge contemporary art, look for this gallery tucked away in a residential area of the city. The owners promote rising talent from the Netherlands and have space for a variety of pieces from paintings to film. Both established and new artists are shown and a small “Playstation” is reserved for completely unknown artists hoping to be discovered.
In a space that has been converted from the room of a typical house, Koch and Bos have created an amazing showcase for surreal underground art. Works are displayed with an artist’s eye for detail, creating art from the art. This is the place to find eclectic avant-garde works, mostly on canvas but all intriguing and sometimes strange. It’s a nice change from the non-stop charm of Amsterdam, although a bit jarring.
Outdoor Sculpture Route
Every two years or so, ARTZUID organizes a number of outdoor pieces along a walkable route. More than 50 international artists contribute pieces that are set up in the Oud Zuid to not only show some amazing art, but also invite people into the district to see the Amsterdam School architecture that dominates the structures. The buildings themselves are works of art with elaborate facades, wrought iron and stained glass windows. The theme varies each year but is designed to engage the participants and makes for a pleasant afternoon of walking and pieces can be seen in about three hours. Even when there are no sculptures on display, the unique architecture in itself is art.
Mysterious Art Pieces
A curious thing began occurring in 1989. Out of nowhere mysterious sculptures appeared and every now and again another one shows up.
Running Man with Violin Case first appeared in 1982. The statue just as suddenly disappeared for a few years before returning painted bright blue. He’s easy to find at Tweede Marnixplantsoen
Little Man with Saw. This small, iron guy showed up in 1989, up in a tree. He’s easily missed but if you look up into the trees around Leidsebosje you should spot him.
The Fiddler you can’t miss this guy since he’s coming right out of the ground. He began entertaining visitors to the Stopera in 1991 and despite this being the meeting place of the Amsterdam City Hall, council members insist they know nothing.
And finally, the Bronze Beast. Appropriately located in the red light district, a single hand groping a breast is a subtle addition to the cobblestone walkway. Curiously, the piece made noise when stepped on, but numerous complaints led to that feature of the artwork being disabled.