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Netherlands: Top 5 Museums in Amsterdam

The top 5 museums in the Netherlands, as measured by the number of visitors during the year 2018, are all located in Amsterdam.

Top 5:

  1. Rijksmuseum
  2. Van Gogh Museum
  3. Anne Frank House
  4. Stedelijke Museum
  5. NEMO Science Museum

Nieuwsuur, a Dutch current affairs television program, asked the most-visited museums in the Netherlands in 2017 for their 2018 visitor statistics, and compiled a Top Five.

Rijksmuseum tops the list with 2.300.000 visitors — 200.000 more than the year before.

Entrance of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
Entrance of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Photo by Kirk Fisher.

The nearby Van Gogh Museum takes second place with 2.170.000 visitors. The ‘Rijks‘ and the ‘Van Gogh‘ often trade first and second place from year to year.

By the way, Efteling — a fantasy-themed amusement park about 2 hours by public transport from Amsterdam — is the top attraction in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam Museums Top 5

Amsterdam Museum Top 520172018
Credit: Nieuwsuur, via DutchAmsterdam.nl
1 – Rijksmuseum
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2 – Van Gogh Museum
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3 – Anne Frank House
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4 – Stedelijk Museum
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5 – Nemo Science Museum
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The list is rounded out by the Anne Frank House, the Stedelijk Museum, and the NEMO Science Museum.

#1 — Rijksmuseum 2019: Another banner year?

2019 may well become another banner year for the Rijksmuseum. This year the museum marks the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death with ‘Year of Rembrandt’. The Rijksmuseum presents a number of Rembrandt exhibitions and a year full of events dedicated to the great artist.

Read all about the unique, temporary exhibition, ‘All The Rembrandts‘ (February 15, 2019 — June 10, 2019)

The museum will also present a fascinating project: a live Restoration of The Nigh Watch, Rembrandt’s most famous painting. You can follow the entire project online or in-person.

Video: Rijksmuseum Director Taco Dibbits explains the largest restoration project in the museum’s history — that of Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

Fortunately the huge museum can easily accommodate more visitors. Says director Taco Dibbits, “The great thing is that there is almost never a queue at the Rijksmuseum.”

Clearly that is not due to a lack of interest. First opened in 1885, the Rijksmuseum underwent an extensive, ten-year renovation before it re-opened in 2013. Among the many improvements was a new entrance much better suited to effectively handle a high number of visitors.

The online sale of skip-the-line entry tickets — a move more and more museums and attractions embrace — also greatly helps.

Incidentally, tourists make up 65% (1.5 million) of the Rijksmuseum’s 2.3 million visitors.

#2 — Van Gogh: Online, timed entry tickets only

In fact, the slightly lower visitor numbers for the Van Gogh Museum is thought to be due to that museum’s switch — in the Spring of 2018 — to online, timed entry tickets only. According to director Axel Rüger, the Van Gogh receives a higher visitor rating since then. No wonder. Before the switch visitors waited as much as two hours in front of the museum’s ticket windows.

The Stedelijk Museum (left) and the Van Gogh Museum (right) at Museumplein in Amsterdam — © Copyright: DutchAmsterdam.com

#3 — Anne Frank House: Near Capacity

The Anne Frank House was renovated in the summer and fall of 2018, but is has no room to expand. In recent years the museum has welcomed 1.2 to 1.3 million visitors a year — full capacity, according to Ronald Leopold, general manager Anne Frank Stichting.

The lengthy, 2+ hour queues the museum was notorious for — see the first photo here — in 2016 became a thing of the past when the Anne Frank House switched to online, timed entry tickets only.

#4 — Stedelijk Museum

The Stedelijk Museum is one of the world’s leading modern art museums. It

At the Stedelijk Museum shows works from such artists as Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, and Karel Appel, as well as from Picasso, Chagall, Cézanne, and Monet.

The museum says it had the “best summer ever” owing to the fact that 263.000 people came to an exhibition with works by Amsterdam-based artist collective Studio Drift.

This was a hastily scheduled exhibition, after one featuring the works of Italian designer Ettore Sottass was canceled due to a conflict with his heirs.

The Stedelijk’s permanent collection was, at the end of 2017, moved to the museum’s huge basement hall where it is displayed under the name, Stedelijk Base.

Video: Stedelijk Base at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has 40+ official museums

The Netherlands (about equal in size to the US State of Maryland) sports more than 400 official museums — and many more unofficial ones. More than 40 of them are in Amsterdam (which itself has many more unofficial museums as well). Matter of fact, no city in the world has more museums per square kilometer than Amsterdam.

Half of all museum visits take place in Amsterdam, NEMO director Michiel Buchel tells Dutch broadcast foundation NOS. “Many of the approximately 20 million visitors to the city come to the forty registered museums in the capital,” he says. “We benefit from being able to go along for the ‘Amsterdam ride’.”

#5 — NEMO Science Museum

The NEMO Science Museum headed by Buchel is a museum dedicated to, well, science. It is a special place for kids of all ages (up to 99 and beyond). There is lots to see and do — and unlike in other museums, you can touch and play with just about everything.

There are five floors where you can experience how science works, unravel the technology around you, study the building blocks of the cosmos, discover who you are, and play with energy. And yes, you can great giant soap bubbles big enough to stand in!

TIP: NEMO sports the largest roof terrace in Amsterdam, offering spectacular views of the city. You can access it whether or not you visit the museum.

More about Museums in Amsterdam

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This post was last updated: Mar. 10, 2019