Housed in a former Dutch Navy building just a few minutes from Amsterdam Central Station, the National Maritime Museum (formerly Netherlands Maritime Museum) holds the largest collection of boats in the world.
The building, vacated by the Dutch Navy in 1973, also is home to one of the world’s most extensive collections of maritime memorabilia.
[The museum] traces the history of Dutch seafaring from the ancient past to the present. Maritime trade, naval combat, fishing and whaling are all explained in interesting displays, including an engaging audiovisual re-enactment of a trip to the East Indies.
There are some 500 models of boats and ships, and a stunning collection of charts and navigational material.
– Source: Lonely Planet, Amsterdam, 3rd edition. Get the current edition at Amazon.com USA | Amazon UK | Amazon.de
Originally used as a warehouse for sails, rope, arms and ammunition for the city’s fleet of ships, the Maritime Museum stands in the heart of Amsterdam’s nautical district. Wooden models, paintings, drawing and ship parts illustrate the commercial, military and recreational ways the Dutch have used the water since the 16th century.
Most fun is the full-sized replica East India Company ship docked behind the museum.
– Source: Time Out Guide Amsterdam, 6th edition. Get the current Time Out Guide Amsterdam at Amazon.com | Amazon.uk | Amazon.de
The museum closed for extensive renovations in January, 2007. Initially it was expected to re-open some time in 2009, then mid-2010. It finally opened to the public again on October 2, 2011
That it took so long was no surprise, really. Rodney Bolt writes:
Built as an admirality warehouse in 1655, it’s a wonder the building’s still upright: construction workers were bribed with ‘drinkgelt‘ (drinking money) and finished it in an amazing 9 months and 14 days.
The new warehouse had a system of cisterns and sprinklers to put out fires, and an army of rat-catching cats with their own officer and keeper.
– Source: Cardogan Guide Amsterdam, 2002 edition. Most recent Cardogan Guide Amsterdam from Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Amazon.de
Workers simply kept running into unexpected issues that required extra planning, permissions — and a series of, well, miracles.
The result is fantastic: one of the best maritime museums in the world, updated for present day visitors who like to take a trip back in time.
Address and Information
Nederlands Scheepvaart Museum / Netherlands Maritime Museum
Tel: 020 523 2222 [Amsterdam phone info]
Update As of October 2, 2011 the Netherlands Maritime Museum is open again.
The museum is open 7 days a week from 9 am till 5 pm.
It is closed on Queen’s Day (30 April), Christmas Day (25 December) and New Year’s Day (1 January).
Nederlands Scheepvaart Museum (English section)