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Famous the world over for its rich cultural heritage, the Netherlands has produced its fair share of renowned artists. Having played a huge role in immortalizing Renaissance and Golden Age art as some of the most impressive works in history, these artists are now celebrated internationally, and Amsterdam makes sure to put their pieces front and center among its popular cultural hubs.
Whether you’re a fan of the Old Masters or have more of a heart for modern media, the Dutch capital is overflowing with spaces to get your art fix. No matter your preferences, the best art galleries in Amsterdam cater to just about every medium, and are a fantastic means of seeing some of the most impressive works from national artists both old and new.
One of the most important museums in both the Netherlands and indeed Europe as a whole, the Rijksmuseum stands as the largest museum in Amsterdam. Dominating the popular Museumplein, the museum is easily one of the most recognizable monuments in the city, most notably for its striking Renaissance- and Gothic-inspired architecture.
The grand halls of the Rijksmuseum are home to a vast collection of art pieces and historical artifacts, illustrating the art and history of the Netherlands from the Dutch Golden Age to present day. Among its more than 8,000-strong collection are priceless pieces from such renowned Dutch artists as Rembrandt and Vermeer, including the former’s famous Night Watch painting.
Van Gogh Museum
Having lived and worked in the Netherlands throughout his life, it’s only fitting that Amsterdam’s most significant art gallery be dedicated to the world’s most famous painter, Vincent Van Gogh. Just a brief walk from the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum stands as the most complete permanent collection of the Dutch painter’s works.
Among the gallery’s vast collection of permanent exhibits are over 200 original paintings and 500 drawings from the Post-Impressionist artist, alongside exhibitions showcasing the works of his contemporaries. The museum is separated chronologically into five periods, each exploring a different key period in his life and work.
With Amsterdam’s vast wealth of impressive artworks dating back throughout the centuries, it’s easy to overlook the works of more modern visionaries. That’s exactly what the MOCO Museum aims to remedy. Short for Modern Contemporary Museum, this modern art hub sits just next door to the Van Gogh Museum, showcasing more modern media to parallel Amsterdam’s established masterpieces.
The MOCO Museum showcases a wide range of contemporary media and artworks, allowing visitors to explore both modern master works and the talented pieces of upcoming artists. Popular among the museum’s collection are various interactive installations, an ever-changing sculpture garden and a number of iconic pieces from the likes of Banksy, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.
Striking both inside and out, thanks to its bathtub-shaped extension, the Stedelijk Museum is Amsterdam’s principal institution for modern and contemporary art. Overlooking the Museumplein and Van Gogh Museum, it’s the largest museum in the Netherlands dedicated to contemporary art and design, comparable in both size and collection to the likes of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Throughout its vast collection, the Stedelijk Museum showcases the works of modern artists from the early twentieth century to the present day. A variety of immersive exhibition rooms complement the permanent collections of renowned modern masters, from Picasso and Monet to Warhol and Lichtenstein.
Combining both historical artifacts and striking artworks, the Amsterdam Museum stands as the Netherlands’ most complete public chronology of the Dutch capital’s history. The museum sits within the canal band, just a short walk from the Royal Palace of Amsterdam.
The museum documents the city’s growth from a thirteenth-century settlement on the banks of the River Amstel to the thriving cultural center we know today. Everything from archeological finds and historical artifacts to the works of such Dutch masters as Rembrandt help to paint a picture of life in Amsterdam and the Low Countries as a whole throughout various periods in history.
EYE Film Institute
While not an art gallery in the most traditional sense, the EYE Film Institute is the Netherlands’ most important center dedicated to the medium of film and the moving image. Instantly striking from its beautiful modern architecture and open waterfront location, the museum stands directly across the river from Amsterdam’s Central Station.
Visitors to EYE Amsterdam can enjoy a selection of classic screenings across its four main cinemas and explore the many facets of the film industry through its expansive exhibition area. The museum explores current, historical and artistic developments in film, while its interactive basement offers visitors the opportunity to explore its vast digitized collection. EYE also hosts an impressive program of immersive, educational events and activities for families and individuals alike to learn about the industry.
Located on the banks of the River Amstel, the Hermitage Amsterdam is the world’s largest branch of the famous Hermitage museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Once a historical nursing home for the elderly, the building now houses a vast, rotating collection of artworks and engaging exhibitions with a central focus on Russian history and culture.
FOAM Photography Museum
Housed within a beautiful former canal warehouse, the FOAM Museum (Dutch: Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam) is an internationally renowned museum dedicated to all genres of photography. The venue’s cozy modern interior exhibits works from both world-famous visionaries and rising international talent.
Spread across four floors, FOAM typically hosts up to four simultaneous exhibitions to provide some variety to visitors, often featuring contrasting styles such as street and landscape photography. The venue also serves as a forum for photographers and enthusiasts alike to discuss their shared interest and attend various workshops and events.
Cobra Museum of Modern Art
Showcasing contemporary art with a unique twist, the Cobra Museum is home to a collection of important works by central artists of the avant-garde CoBrA art movement. Considered the most important post-war art movement in the Netherlands, CoBrA was formed in 1948 during an international artists’ congress in Paris. The movement strived to oppose stuffy academia and revive a more spontaneous, innocent and childlike approach to artistic expression.
The museum features key works from master artists and engineers of the movement, Appel, Corneille and Constant, alongside various pieces from their contemporaries. An additional wing also houses modern works from the Rijksmuseum and the Museum Beelden aan Zee in Scheveningen.