I took a short solo trip to Amsterdam in May 2017. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. It seemed as though everyone I knew had been already! Seeing their photos on social media made me even more tempted to go as it just looked so beautiful!
I was certainly not disappointed! It was a really wonderful city to walk around. I went in the Spring so the blossom on the trees had started to fall.
Even though it was lovely outside, I spent a lot of my time inside- in museums! Amsterdam has some fantastic, world class museums but I wanted to seek out some of the more unusal ones too.
I absolutely reccommend you visit the obvious ones – like the Van Gogh (always busy but great) and the Anne Frank museum (a MUST visit). But here is a list of my favourite museums in Amsterdam that are a little more unusal:
1. Vrolik Museum
This is my favourite of all the unusual museums. It’s a medical museum established at the end of the 18th century. It is full of body parts, organs, skeletons, bones, embryos and pathological specimens. There are many specimens that have mutations or malformations. The museum started as a private collection put together by Gerardus Vrolik (1755-1859), one of the most important Dutch scientists of the time. Since the death of his son, Willem Vrolik, the specimens were bought by a group of rich Amsterdammers. The collection has been expanded slightly by other anatomists but it has kept the ‘Vrolik’ name.
Why I like it: I have always been fascinated by the human body and I love anything that helps me understand our anatomy. Also, there’s something very creepy about it at the same time! Body parts floating around in a jars is like something you’d see in a horror film! It is incredible how old some of the specimens are. They were also so important at the time (and still are) in understanding malformations of the body. I didn’t take any close up photos since this is not allowed but I took this one to give you an idea of the size and layout of the museum (it’s just one large room).
Location: The museum is located on the ground floor of the Faculty of Medicine (building J). Closest metro station: Holendrecht. This is about an 18 minute journey from Amsterdam Centraal Station. It is a little outside of the city centre but definitely worth it.
Opening hours: Monday- Friday. 10 am to 5 pm
Entrance fee: Free of charge (without guide). €35 (with guide for a group of up to 15)
2. Sex Museum (Venustempel)
Now, this might be one that many of you know of and have possibly visited already. It is the most popular museum on my list but it is definitely still unusual! Not to be confused with the Erotic Museum which is in the heart of the Red Light District. I went to both so I could decide which is best- and the Sex Museum came out as the winner! It is apparently the worlds first sex museum- it opened in 1985. On display are paintings, cartoons, photographs, statues and recordings.
Why I like it: There’s a good range of old and new and it’s a mixture of serious and light hearted. The thing I found most interesting was collections of old pornopgaphic photographs- some of which dated back to the late 1800’s. You always think of people being very prudish back then but the men and women in these photos certainly weren’t!
Location: Damrak 18. One of Amsterdam’s busiest streets- close to Centraal Station
Opening hours: Monday- Sunday 9:30am -11:30pm.
Entrance fee: €4
Sex Museum (Venustempel) Website
3. Cat Cabinet (KattenKabinet)
This museum is in a beautiful 17th century canal house. It is dedicated to the role of cats in art and culture throughout history. There are even two house cats that live at the museum. The collection also includes a Picasso.
Why I like it: Anyone that’s close to me knows I am a HUGE fan of cats so I am happy to look around anything that is cat related! There are some really nice pieces here and walking around the old building is part of the experience too. There’s also a great gift shop for posters and postcards.
Location: Herengracht 497, 1017 BT , Amsterdam
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 10am -5pm. Saturday & Sunday 12pm-5pm
Entrance fee: Adults: €7 Children under 12: Free. Students: €4 Group (10+): €4 per person
4. Museum of Prostitution (Red Light Secrets)
The website claims it’s the world’s only museum of prostitution. I’m not sure if that’s true but it’s certainly the first prostitution museum I’ve come across. It’s in the heart of the Red Light District and it explains what it is like to be a sex worker in Amsterdam. The building itself used to be a brothel. It is less busy if you visit the museum during the day rahter than night time.
Why I like it: There was some really insightful and clever installations in the museum. You could listen to secrets and confessions of prostitutes and look inside the kind of rooms they work in. The museum is full of interesting facts and I think it’s important to learn about the Red Light District since it’s such a famous and historic part of Amsterdam.
Location: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60, 1012 DP, Amsterdam
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 11am-12 midnight
Entrance fee: €10 (on the door) €8 (online)
Museum of Prostitution (Red Light Secrets) Website
5. The Cat Boat (De Poezenboot)
I’m cheating a little bit with this one as it’s not really a museum. It’s a refuge for stray and abandoned cats! The cats live on a houseboat on one of the canals in Amsterdam. The Cat Boat is a non-profit organization that is financially supported by donors. They want to help find homes for as many cats as possible! They have volunteers who help keep the cats fed and healthy and also get them vaccinated and chipped. You can visit The Cat Boat at designated times on certain days and you are free to pet the cats or just watch them playing.
Why I like it: As I mentioned earlier, I am such a cat person! I love cats and when I’m abroad I often try to visit and donate to animal shelters (I do love dogs too, just for the record). This place is unique since it is built on a houseboat. The cats had lots of toys to play with and things to climb. It was lovely to visit – I’m just sad I couldn’t take them all home!
Location: Singel 38.G, 1015 AB, Amsterdam
Opening hours: Daily from 1pm – 3pm. Closed Wednesday and Sunday.
Entrance fee: Free but donations welcome
… and that’s my top 5 unusual museums in Amsterdam! I realise there was a bit of a cats and sex theme! That was not my intention but it seems Amsterdam has a lot of sex and cats to offer! Let me know in the comments if there are any unusual museums you’ve been to ? Or if you went to any of the above? Thank you for reading!
20 thoughts on “My Top 5 Unusual Museums in Amsterdam”
HAHAHA this is awesome and totally true (about the sex and cats) Amsterdam is an amazing city! Thanks for sharing this post, definitely looking forward to my chance to go back.
Haha! Sex and cats just ended up being the theme here ! Thank you. I loved the city too and would definitely go back
Sex and cats! I love it! Mostly the cats. I absolutely love the idea of a cat boat and can’t wait to check it out. Cats are my favorite. Did you ever feel uncomfortable in the prostitution museum? Do they do any work to end prostitution?
Haha “mostly the cats” !
No I didn’t feel uncomfortable there. Amsterdam is very comfortable with it’s up front way of selling sex/sex museums/sex shops etc. And I think it’s near impossible to completely stop prostitution. The good thing about Amsterdam is, having the sex trade controlled makes it safer for the sex workers (although it is definitely still a risky job to get into). Id recommend the museum to help understand the red light district and how it works in Amsterdam
So many memories! We’ve been to the Netherlands last year and I’m in full withdrawal syndrome now: I want to go back so bad! And lol we missed the Sex Museum, how could we? 😀
Its a really great city isn’t it ! Next time ! Haha
Great post! I love that the highlighted the lesser known museums. I’m a museum gal through and through and the cat museum sounds awesome! The role of cats in arts throughout history is such a niche topic and I’d be really interested to see how the museum pulls the exhibits together. Also, the fact there are actual cats living there is beyond adorable!
Thank you 🙂 Cat Cabinet isn’t a huge museum- it feels like you’re in someone’s big house and they’re obsessed with cats haha !
Oh God… I can think of someone who would probably drag me to all the sex ones … however I suppose I can retaliate with Museum Vrolik!
Hahaha! It’s such a fascinating museum though! I’m glad it’s not just me that finds human remains in jars interesting
Silly me, when I visited, I only saw the windmills, tulips, canal…. how did I miss any of these museums!? I think the Vrolik Museum looks fascinating.
Don’t worry! They’re easy to miss and the tulips and canals are obviously some of highlights of Amsterdam. The Vrolik was so interesting I’d highly recommend
Omg I love this list! I visited Amsterdam a few years ago, but I didn’t know about any of these. I would love to visit the Cat Cabinet! I’m also a big fan of cats! <3
Thank you! Glad you liked it! 🙂
I am not a big fan of museums… But I totally loved your post and THESE museums are indeed more inviting than the ‘actual’ museums.. hahhahah… btw, those cats are just too adorable.. lol :D..
I’m glad you enjoyed the post even though you’re not a museum person ! Thanks. I know 🙂 I love them
A cat boat?! That’s amazing and I’m ashamed I missed it lol. I tried to go to the Tulip Museum, but they were closed for like one day – and it was the day I had planned to go
If the Tulip museum is the same one I am thinking of- it wasn’t that great. More like a tulip shop without many actual Tulips! haha so you didn’t miss much. Maybe go to the cat boat if you’re ever in Amsterdam again 🙂
Amsterdam does have amazing museums, though I haven’t been to the ones you mentioned. This is a fascinating choice of options to explore. The Cat boat??? Very interesting. I’ve added a few more to my list for my next trip to Amsterdam.
Yeah there are some amazing ones I haven’t mentioned here! But I just wanted to focus on my unusual ones for this post. Thanks for reading and I am glad you found it helpful for your next trip 🙂