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Unique and Unusual Museums and Attractions in Amsterdam

Places to Find Something a Little Different in Amsterdam


So you've explored the Rijksmuseum and the works of Van Gogh and now you're looking for something a little more off-the-wall. These unique and unusual Amsterdam museums won't disappoint.

Museum Vrolik

Preserved human heads in the Vrolik Museum
Photo © Universiteit van Amsterdam
It may seem creepy, and I suppose it kind of is, to preserve human remains in jars. But this museum -- which is part of the University of Amsterdam's Academic Medical Center -- displays such specimens in the name of science, namely the science of Professor Gerardus Vrolik (1755-1859) and his son Professor Willem Vrolik (1801-1863). The anatomical and zoological collection includes 150 specimens of congenital malformations, as well as additional scientists' collections of pathological bones and dentistry items.

Katten Kabinet

If you're a cat person, the "Cat Cabinet" is right up your alley. Founded by a man named Bob Meijer in honor of his beloved feline companion, the collection is dedicated entirely to the role of the cat in art and culture throughout history. The many paintings, sculpture and prints may surprise visitors, bearing names like Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Housed in a stately canal house, the museum's grand building was used in shooting the film Ocean's Twelve.

De Poezenboot

De Poezenboot offers a safe haven for Amsterdam's stray cats
Photo © De Poezenboot
Do you know a crazy cat lady? I'd bet she's no match for Henriette van Weelde, the founder of De Poezenboot ("the Cat Boat"). This floating feline sanctuary gives countless stray cats in Amsterdam a place to call home and is 100% staffed by volunteers. They welcome visitors and are eager to educate people on responsible cat ownership. Many canal boat tours point out the boxy boat, which always has a few lazy kitties lounging on the deck.

Het Nationaal Brilmuseum

Amsterdam's Brilmuseum, or the National Museum of Spectacles, is the result of one family's love of collecting over more than 35 years. That love has produced two floors of optometric objects and art pieces, illustrating spectacle fashion and history spanning 700 years. On the ground floor of this 17th-century building you'll find a recreated 1930s spectacle shop, which sells more than 100 historic frames and several more modern models. Look for the small red-painted storefront on one of Amsterdam's Negen Straatjes ("Nine Little Streets"), one of the city's best shopping areas.
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