Museums in Amsterdam & Haarlam

My husband and I are planning far ahead for a trip to Berlin and Amsterdam (Oct 2016). I have been looking into the Museumkaart for our time in the Netherlands (Amsterdam with a side trip to Haarlam) however am running into that the museums we want to see total to 51€ and the card is more than that.

We are planning to visit the following museums:
Rijksmuseum
Van Gogh Museum
Anne Frank's House
Dutch Resistance Museum
Corrie Ten Boom House (free plus donation so no worry about the card there).

Are there any other museums anybody highly recommends in either Amsterdam or Haarlam? We are both very interested in history (especially WWII) and music. I love art but think that the two museums already listed will be enough for my husband. He is also into boating and I believe there is a maritime museum - anybody been there?

We can also always decide to just buy all the tickets on their own to save money but I have a feeling we may get to Amsterdam and decide to possibly hit up a new museum. We have 4 full days in Amsterdam (taking a night train in from Berlin and I have the last day listed for just going home, we may have some morning time to do something else as well) and are planning to take a half day to Haarlam unless we figure out there's more to do there (we figured we'd hit the Corrie Ten Boom House and explore the market for lunch and explore the town).

Also, both Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh offer an audio tour for 5€ - has anybody ever done these? Were they worth the money? I tend to like audio tours in art museums if I can choose my own path (I've done some that tell you to turn here and then there and I tend to get lost or sidetracked. This was a long time ago so I have a feeling they've changed).

And my final question: is doing Anne Frank's House (try for an opening hour slot), Rijksmuseum, and Van Gogh too much for one day? I feel like Rick Stevens put the latter two together on many itineraries I've seen that include Amsterdam and the Anne Frank House website says you should allot an hour (anybody think different?)

Whew, a lot of questions but thanks for any help you can give me! We're so excited even if it is a couple of years away.

Posted by Dee
Evergreen
58 posts

We enjoyed Rembrandt's House Museum included in the Museumkaart. On the top floor of the house is Rembrandt's art studio. Depending on where you are staying or from where you begin your journey, you may need to take a tram or two to get there.

Posted by Emily
Indianapolis
9 posts

Thanks Dee! That makes it seem a little more worth it. I just need to figure out if the timing works. I feel we will want to spend a lot of Amsterdam just walking around and enjoying the atmosphere. My husband's family is 100% Dutch and he's never been to the Netherlands so he's excited about that. We're also planning to rent a houseboat to stay on so that will be somewhere we'll hang out (especially as we're not big into nightlife)

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
1623 posts

I was at the Maritime Museum in June. I was somewhat disappointed as it's 15€ and I didn't think it was worth that much. I wanted to see the replica of the Dutch East India Company which is docked out back. I went thru it but there were few informational signs and what there were of those didn't go into the detail I wanted. There was a guard out there on the ship but altho he was pleasant he didn't really have the ability to answer questions. I also just did one exhibit (the one on slavery) before I lost interest. I felt the museum was very much pitched to a kids level, which is fine, but don't charge me 15€ to get in!

I felt the arrangement was a little odd as the building is around a central covered courtyard but for each wing you have to go back down to the courtyard to cross over to the entrance to the other wing. I would have loved to have had information on the actual building but there were no brochures at the ticket window. There were employees stationed in the courtyard area but they mainly were just pointing out directions to visitors and didn't seem to be on a level to answer questions. There did not seem to be audioguides as there were none available at the ticket booth.

I would put this absolute last on things to do. The best thing about the museum is that we were there on a gorgeous sunny day and it was fun to watch all the boats zipping around from the vantage of the Dutch East India ship.

I am going to be back in AMS in August and plan to do the Resistance Museum then.

Posted by Emily
Indianapolis
9 posts

Thanks for your opinion Pam, probably something we may not do then. I'm thinking we might stick to the original list and just purchase individual tickets instead of the Museumkaart. The only thing would be if we have some extra time the Museumkaart would allow us to go back to Rijkmuseum for a short amount of time to see more. However, in my research I think we're going to stay in/near the Jordaan neighborhood so it's not like we'll be passing those museums every day.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2923 posts

I recommend the Frans Hals, but only if you and yours are up for it of course.

You might not feel that you are, after that ambitious day in Amsterdam.

Posted by Emily
Indianapolis
9 posts

Thanks Adam! I saw that one but am not sure I could drag my husband to another art museum after two in Amsterdam. But I will keep it in mind.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7402 posts

Completely disagree about the Maritime Museum, it just reopened after a multi-year renovation, and I thought all the exhibits were first rate, especially the art gallery. It had state of the art presentations of not all only maritime history from the days of the Dutch East India Company company to modern day container shipping. Also IMO the replica ship was first-rate.

Other museums to consider is the Tropical Museum with excellent exhibits about third-world cultures, the Amsterdam Museum which often has very interesting temporary exhibits, and the Royal Palace right on Dam Square which is open in the afternoon most days.

Posted by Emily
Indianapolis
9 posts

Thanks Michael. We may wing it based on time for the maritime museum. I forgot my husband marked going to the palace in the book as well.

Posted by Dawn
Denver, CO
415 posts

We went to the Anne Frank house last November and spent about 1.5 hours there, but we took our time. I think 1.-1.5 hours is a good estimate, unless you have to wait a while in line. But you mentioned getting your tickets ahead of time online which is a great idea because then you can just walk right in.

Just my opinion, but I think see the Rijks and Van Gogh in one day would be too much. Not so much because of time constraints, but because of sensory overload. I can do about 3 hours in a museum, and then things start running together. If it was me, I'd do the two art museums on separate days.

With your interest in WWII, you'll really like the Resistance museum. We spent about a bit under 2 hours there and would have stayed longer but they were closing. Really informative, detailed museum with great exhibits.

We loved Amsterdam and wished we had longer there to do what you are going to do - just wander around and enjoy the beauty and atmosphere of the city.

p.s. Rick is filming 2 new episodes in Amsterdam and the Netherlands that will air this fall. Watching those will get you even more excited for your trip! Have a great time.

Posted by Emily
Indianapolis
9 posts

Thanks Dawn! I've been following Rick on Facebook and am getting so inspired by his Amsterdam posts. Can't wait to see the newly filmed shows.

Good point on sensory overload - especially for the husband. Perhaps I'll reconfigure the itinerary to do an art museum and the Dutch Resistance Museum on a day so there's variety. Although I should check out the map before doing that...

Did you do the audio tour at either Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh?

Posted by Jack
St Joe Beach Florida
227 posts

I don't know how much art you are able to stand in one city, on one trip. Amsterdam is blessed with several great art museum. In addition to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museums there is also a wonderful modern art museum (the Stedelijk), a well as a branch of the Hermitage Museum from St Petersburg (Russia).

Either of these will fill a couple of sightseeing hours.

Posted by Ceidleh
Boston, MA, United States
1271 posts

The Rijks is enormous and you could literally spend the entire day there (not advised if your husband has a low threshold for museums), the Van Gogh and Anne Frank can each be seen in a couple of hours. Anne Frank House is open late (like until 9PM in the Fall) and actually it's great to go in the evening. I went during peak season but showed up around 6:30PM and walked right in with my Museumkaart. Alternatively, if you can manage to be in Amsterdam over a Friday, you could head over to the Van Gogh after the Rijks closes as they stay open later on Friday evenings until about 10PM. On Friday evenings they also have music, guided tours, lectures and a cocktail bar on the ground floor of the museum - you can check their website to get an idea of what type of events they have going on now even though your trip is not for another 2 years.

The Museumkaart is worth the money. It does not cost that much more than what you estimated single ticket admissions will cost you for the places you listed. It's good for a full year, covers many museums all over the Netherlands, not just Amsterdam. And it also covers admission to other places like churches (Our Lord in the Attic and Oude Kerk), galleries (FOAM is a great photography gallery), and some really interesting historic canal houses (Van Loon, Willet-Holthuysen, etc.) that have some beautiful private gardens. These are all fairly small places that don't take long to see - and they are scattered all over Amsterdam. And if you want to go back to see more of some of the large museums on another day (like the Rijks), the card will let you do that. At some museums, it also helps you skip past a lot of the people lining up with tickets (when I went to the Van Gogh on 2 separate occasions, they had a dedicated express line for Museumkaart holders - not always the case with the Rijks, though - and at the Stedelijk Museum, there was actually a kiosk in the lobby which let Museumkaart holders swipe their own card, get a ticket out of a machine and skip past the line and go right over to security to get into the galleries.) If that doesn't convince you, there's also the plus of being able to pop into any of the places included on the card and use their bathrooms when you are out walking around Amsterdam, and if you decide you aren't interested in poking around for a few minutes, you can simply move on with the rest of your day.

Posted by kennethmonk
1 posts

I had a question along similar lines. We are going to be in Amsterdam in a couple of weeks and we are wondering the best way to proceed regarding pre-purchasing tickets to the museums we want to see. We want to keep some flexibility due to weather conditions. Can you buy tickets just one or two days in advance of going to the various museums after you have arrived in Amsterdam?

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
1623 posts

I realize I commented on the original topic in July but wanted to add that I recently did the Dutch Resistance Museum and the Anne Frank House. If your schedule works out I suggest you do the Dutch Resistance Museum the day before you do the Anne Frank House. It was not crowded and there was plenty of time to absorb the info from the exhibits. Make sure you sit thru the short film first. The presentation was basically what would you do if invaded...adjust, collaborate or resist.

I thought it gave an excellent framework for the Anne Frank visit as the house is very crowded and harder to take your time to absorb the surroundings.

I would not do these 2 museums on the same day. I found the Dutch Resistance museum very powerful. The 2 teenagers ahead of me in the lineup at Anne Frank House had a very difficult time there with one having a panic attack due to the tight close stairs with shoulder to shoulder crowds and the other one being overcome by tears and sobbing her way thru.

I did the Rijks Museum and doubt I could have managed the Van Gogh after that so I would do those separate days.

Posted by Linda
La Conner, WA, usa
45 posts

We love Amsterdam and its museums. Riksmuseum is tops. But some that you might not have noticed are the Hermitage (yes, in Amsterdam) and the Amsterdam Museum. The AM nicely explains some background about the city and it's building process - and some cultural stuff about the city. We also really enjoy the New Church - which has a Dutch name of course. They always have great exhibits there.

I am always surprised that an exhibit that I might not have thought to be interesting is.

My order is Rijks, Van Gogh, Hermitage, New Church, Amsterdam Museum. Need lots of time for Rijks. Do it, go back to hotel, and return to do it some more. There are apps for it, btw.

have fun,
Linda

Posted by rbovine1
Chattanooga
14 posts

Great thread. I am very interested in learning about the app that is available for the Rijks museum. I am googling that now! Thanks.

We are also planning to use the Museumkaart, and while these are not as important as the major art museums, I would like to see the Tulip museum and the Diamond museum.