These homes to historic and artistic wonders are the most treasured museums in Amsterdam, and all Amsterdam visitors should try to make it to at least one or two them. Click on each link below for a full visitor's guide to each museum. Once you've hit "the big three," you might also consider other Amsterdam museum ideas, such as:
As the country's largest national museum undergoes extensive renovation (the timeline for which has been pushed out several times, most recently until 2012-13), the Rijksmuseum
now showcases an abbreviated collection of 17th- and 18th-century Dutch works of art in one wing of the massive Neo-Gothic building. "The Masterpieces" exhibition takes visitors through an evolution of the Dutch Golden Age, a time when the Netherlands' colonization and trade efforts made it the world's richest country. The collection features stunning samples of Delftware, silver and other artifacts, as well as paintings by Dutch masters Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals. The museum's imposing exterior architecture alone is a sight worth seeing.
A favorite Amsterdam attraction for all ages, the Van Gogh Museum
allows visitors to get up close and personal with the dotted-and-dashed brush strokes and somewhat troubled life of one of the world's most-loved European artists. The Van Gogh Museum contains the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world, and also houses works by other 19th-century artists -- including Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, Seurat, Sisley and Toulouse-Lautrec -- in its permanent collection. Temporary exhibitions in the modern annex are also impressive.
See also: Highlights and Paintings of the Van Gogh Museum
Don't miss the chance to see where Anne Frank penned her now world-famous diary, which tells the story of a young Jewish girl in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam in World War II. Viewing the secret annex and many other rooms in this restored canal house is a deeply moving experience and well-worth enduring the ever-present crowds. Avoid lines by visiting early or late in the day, or by purchasing special-access evening tickets in advance.
See also: Is the Anne Frank House Appropriate for Children?