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Top 5 Museums in Amsterdam

Top 5 most popular museums in Amsterdam

The top 5 museums in the Netherlands, as measured by the number of visitors during the year 2019, are all located in Amsterdam.

Up-to-date: This list was updated on January 23, 2020.

Best museums in Amsterdam by visitor numbers:

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

Nieuwsuur, a Dutch current affairs television program, asked the most-visited museums in the Netherlands in 2018 for their 2019 visitor statistics. It then compiled a Top Five, which this year includes a shared fourth place.

Rijksmuseum tops the list with 2.700.000 visitors — 400.000 more than the year before.

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

Like last year, the nearby Van Gogh Museum takes second place with 2.100.000 visitors. The ‘Rijks‘ and the ‘Van Gogh‘ often trade first and second place from year to year.

The list is rounded out by the Anne Frank House, the NEMO Science Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum.

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

Updated January 23, 2020. Note the shared 4th place.

Top 5 Museums in Amsterdam20182019
Updated January 23, 2020. Credit: NOS Nieuwsuur, via DutchAmsterdam.nl
1 – Rijksmuseum
Details   Tickets
2.300.0002.700.000
2 – Van Gogh Museum
Details   Tickets
2.100.0002.100.000
3 – Anne Frank House
Details   Tickets
1.200.0001.300.000
4 – Nemo Science Museum
Details   Tickets
670.000670.000
4 – Stedelijk Museum
Details   Tickets
700.000670.000

You can visit these museums (except the Anne Frank House) for free with the I amsterdam City Card. That’s just one of many benefits.

#1 — Rijksmuseum 2019: Another banner year

2019 turned into another banner year for the Rijksmuseum. The year marked the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death with ‘Year of Rembrandt’. The Rijksmuseum presented a number of Rembrandt exhibitions and a year full of events dedicated to the great artist.

The museum continues to 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 60% of the Rijksmuseum’s 2.7 million visitors.

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

In the Spring of 2018 the Van Gogh Museum got rid of long lines by switching to an online, timed entry tickets only system. Acting director Adriaan Dönszelmann says the Van Gogh receives a higher visitor appreciation 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. 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 Anne Frank House has no room to expand. Because the house is an integral part of the museum’s collection, it cannot move elsewhere either.

“The interest in the Anne Frank House is always greater than what we can handle,” says Director Leopold. “The quality of the visit and how people experience it is paramount.”

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

#4 (shared )– 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.

Though NEMO has a shared 4th place, it is one of the top things to do when you visit Amsterdam with your children.

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.

#4 (shared) — Stedelijk Museum

The Stedelijk Museum is one of the world’s leading modern art museums. It shows works from such artists as Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, and Karel Appel, as well as from Picasso, Chagall, Cézanne, and Monet.

In 2018 the museum had the “best summer ever” owing to the fact that 263.000 people came to a hugely popular exhibition with works by Amsterdam-based artist collective Studio Drift.

Director Rein Wolfs says that since the target for this year was 650.000 visitors, he is satisfied.

The Stedelijk’s permanent collection is housed in 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’.”

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