It is no secret that I probably married one of the biggest nerds on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, people. I am very happy about that, to be honest! 😉 In fact, I’m absolutely lucky to find someone who would want to visit as many museums as I’d want to in this lifetime and not yawn at me to death.
It’s no secret that we both love travelling and are quite nerdy about it. And while some people may say museums are overrated, us two will be the first to disagree with an eye roll. And as a veteran museum-goer (I declare it a thing now), I’d have to say that the National Maritime Museum and the Rijksmuseum – both in Amsterdam – are definitely worth your time and money.
I’m gonna jump right into it as I have very limited time to write this entry! So many things to do today! 😀
Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum)
Address: Kattenburgerplein 11018 KK Amsterdam
Open daily from 9am to 5pm
Getting there: Take the 22 bus (Indische buurt) or the 48 bus (Borneo Eiland) which departs from the front of Victoria Hotel (near the Amsterdam Centraal train station).
The Dutch are known for their rich maritime history and their important sea voyages that lead to discoveries and highly coveted spices. Of course, they had to have a special museum that documents these things. Do Hugo Grotius and his book Mare Liberum ring a bell? 😉
Once more, we went with my mom and her boyfriend who’s actually a tour guide so we were able to appreciate the museum more. I’ve been here before and this visit is actually more for Alvin but nevertheless, I still enjoyed it a lot.
The exact replica of the ship The Amsterdam is moored right beside the museum and is one of the best attractions. The original got lost at sea during its maiden voyage in 1749.
It’s quite interactive as you get to try to lift cargo using a pulley (can be found in the cargo hold) and get to try out the furniture they have inside the ship like the beds and chairs which are so tiny! It’s hard to imagine Dutch people being short – like 5’3″ short!
The ship’s weekly menu lists actual food consumed on ships during the 1700s!
They also have an extensive collection of paintings depicting the Dutch’s maritime expolits.
Some of my favourites are these detailed pen painting by Adriaen Cornelisz Van Der Salm (above) and this detailed river landscape by Aert Van Der Neer (below).
Old maps made by historical cartographers can also be found here.
Interesting enough, you can find the Philippines in most of the maps!
Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Open daily, 9am to 5pm
Getting There: From Amsterdam Centraal station, you can take trams 2 or 5 and get off
The last time I was here, it was being renovated and I was quite happy to see the improvements and the new wings. It’s a lot more modern indoors and easier to navigate. With over half a million pieces in its collection, this museum is definitely a must see.
Even Van Gogh himself was one of the first visitors of this museum and he dreamed that his paintings will be included here some day. And they did! Also, he now has his own museum a few steps away from the Rijks! By the way, we did visit the Van Gogh Museum during the trip but I won’t be making an entry about it since we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. Do visit it too! The Almond Blossom painting makes falling in line worth it.
The museum was a lot more crowded compared to my last visit which was during winter. However, it’s big enough to accommodate everyone. The areas which you might find quite suffocating are the ones where you can see the 3 Van Gogh paintings and the star of the museum – Rembrandt’s The Night Watch.
Modern elements have been added to the interior of the building as well as an Asian pavilion where they are now housing their artefacts from the ‘far east’.
Here’s the Buddhist deity Guanyin, deep in meditation.
Two statues that were found in Japan, guarding the entrance to a temple.
A collection of hand-painted kimonos are also present. We learned that day that back in the day, single women wore kimonos that have wider sleeves and when they get married, the change it to a narrower style.
The paintings in the Rijksmuseum are also quite impressive. They have a massive collection ranging from different periods – I especially enjoyed the medieval paintings – and different styles.
But if you’re more of the relic type, they are not short of those as well. From war instruments, clothes worn by Jews during the Holocaust, and even a real plane – an FK 23 Bantam. Which I will show you guys later.
The three Van Gogh paintings.
The building is also an artwork itself with exquisite stained glass windows, intricately decorated hallways, and sunny galleries.
Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. A tiny painting that has the most pronounced details. It’s like opening a door and stepping into a kitchen to find the subject pouring milk – just as the artist intended. We were told that Vermeer intended to have a painting hanging on the white wall behind the milkmaid but decided against it in the end to make sure that the complete attention of the viewer is drawn towards her.
Rembrandt’s The Jewish Bride. Not really a favourite of mine among his works, to be honest. But it’s quite popular among art enthusiasts as until now, the couple is still unidentified. Some say they are the Biblical characters Isaac and Rebecca as drawings similar to this were made by Rembrandt during the time when he was trying to make studies for a painting of the said Biblical characters. But alas, nobody knows for sure.
But this one – oh this one – is definitely a favourite of mine. I know it’s a bit of a cliché to love this painting. But I just do. The genius use of dark and light paint, the depth of field – this painting is quite uncommon back in the 1600s as when people commission paintings for their organisations (such as the nature of this painting), they are usually painted sitting down or in a single file.
He also gave them motion which I think made the painting stand out among his other works.
Its real name is actually The Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq (quite a mouthful, eh?) but it’s more commonly known as The Night Watch since most people thought it was depicting an evening scene when in reality, it was only covered in dark varnish which was removed during the 40s.
Not really a popular painting but I thought I’d mention it here just so when you decide to visit, you can check it out! 🙂 It’s my husband’s and my mom’s boyfriend’s favourite painting in the museum. It’s by a Dutch artist called Hendrick Avercamp.
It may seem like a happy painting with all the colours and with all the people having fun on the ice during winter but as you look closely, you’ll see a few details that are either grim or cheeky – there’s a horse that froze to death and is now being devoured by crows, and a couple hiding in a barn. 😉
The FK 23 Bantam was designed by the Dutchman Koolhoven and was intended to be a fighter plane during WWI. It was also said to be a big hit during the First Aviation Exhibition in Amsterdam.
Hope that’s helpful! Gotta run now but I’ll be back for more soon! 😀
*Trip is not sponsored by any country’s tourism department, company, or brand but by my side of the family living in Europe. 😊