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The National Maritime Museum

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Place Details

Name: The National Maritime Museum

Rating: 4.5 / 5

City: Amsterdam

Country: Netherlands

Address: Kattenburgerplein 1, 1018 KK Amsterdam

Phone Number: +31 020 523 2222

Website: Visit the Website

Hours of Operation: Monday:10am-5pm|Tuesday:10am-5pm|Wednesday:10am-5pm|Thursday:10am-5pm|Friday:10am-5pm|Saturday:10am-5pm|Sunday:10am-5pm


About The National Maritime Museum

Set against the iconic backdrop of Amsterdam, the National Maritime Museum, known locally as Het Scheepvaartmuseum, offers a compelling portal to the seafaring past of the Netherlands. Housed in the grand, 17th-century Lands Zeemagazijn, the former storehouse of the Admiralty, it captures the essence of an era when maritime prowess was the cornerstone of Dutch wealth and influence. This monumental building by the harbor, once the heart of Dutch naval power, now serves as the custodian of one of the most extensive maritime collections in the world.

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Visitors can discover a treasure trove of over 400,000 artifacts that narrate the saga of 500 years of maritime history. The museum’s exhibits encompass many objects, including a masterfully crafted ship model replicating the Dutch East India Company, historical maritime paintings, intricate navigational instruments, and ancient world maps.

Each piece contributes to a rich tapestry that tells the story of the Netherlands‘ maritime heritage and its consequential relationship with the waters that touch its shores.

The National Maritime Museum is more than just a repository of ancient relics and notable maritime collections; it’s a vivid chronicle of the Dutch maritime spirit, continuing to connect with contemporary society and its future.

Interactive multimedia displays and engrossing, thematic exhibitions invite visitors of all ages to engage with the history that shaped the modern Netherlands. The museum’s ability to weave historical threads with the present ensures that every guest walks away with a deeper understanding of Amsterdam’s maritime soul.

History and Significance

Historic tall ship at Amsterdam's National Maritime Museum
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Within the heart of Amsterdam lies a portal to visit a bygone era of maritime prowess. The National Maritime Museum, Het Scheepvaartmuseum, is a testament to the Dutch maritime legacy, a cornerstone of the Golden Age of Exploration.

Here, history beckons visitors to immerse themselves in the tales of naval journeys and trade that carved out the country’s global stature.

Dutch Maritime Heritage

The Dutch maritime tradition is a storied chronicle of skill and navigation. This history is deeply etched in the country’s DNA, cemented by its prolific fleet during the Golden Age of Dutch exploration and trade.

Het Scheepvaartmuseum safeguards a collection of maritime collections that is an ode to this heritage, with artifacts that are ambassadors of the past, speaking of the adventures and the storied naval battles that marked the Netherlands as a maritime nation.

Golden Age of Exploration

In an era when seamanship was equivalent to power, the Dutch were the titans of the high seas. Their vessels set sail across uncharted waters, navigating to the farthest reaches of the globe and etching the Dutch name in history.

This period of the 17th century saw the Netherlands blossom into a trading superpower, an epoch gloriously narrated through the museum’s exhibitions of ship models, navigational instruments, nautical charts, and maritime paintings.

Museum’s Evolution

Stained glass window with ship at Oude Kerk Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The National Maritime Museum’s metamorphosis is a captivating saga. Once an arsenal, het Zeemagazijn, built in 1656, was integral to the Admiralty of Amsterdam’s naval efforts. Transitioning from its martial role, it was reborn as the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam in 1973.

A substantial renovation from 2007 to 2011 breathed new life into its halls, blending state-of-the-art interactive displays with historical reverence. Today, the museum recounts a rich history and is a preserved piece of Amsterdam’s maritime narrative.

Exhibitions and Collections

Dutch naval battle painting at the National Maritime Museum Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Journey through the world’s largest tapestry of maritime heritage as The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) showcases a collection reflecting centuries of nautical prowess. Navigate between history and modernity as you explore maritime artifacts, ship models, and paintings.

Permanent Exhibits

Historic ship exhibit at Amsterdam's National Maritime Museum
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The museum’s heartbeat is its permanent galleries, which house significant maritime artifacts that have sailed through time. The Main Gallery, titled “Republic at Sea,” is an immersive 60-minute experience shedding light on the Netherlands’ storied relationship with naval trade and conflict during the Dutch Golden Age.

A spotlight shines on exquisite ship models and art pieces, each telling a story of one of the world’s seafaring triumphs and tumults.

Special Collections

Amongst approximately 400,000 objects, the museum’s special collections comprise paintings and artifacts that delve into the depths of maritime history.

These curated gems serve as cultural waypoints that guide visitors through the Netherlands’ vast legacy of exploration, trade, and naval history, capturing the essence of its maritime soul.

Navigational Instruments

A testament to the ingenuity of seafarers past, the collection of navigational instruments stands as a cornerstone of the museum’s offerings. Age-old compasses, meticulously crafted sea charts, and various instruments that have charted the oceans beckon visitors to ponder the evolution of maritime navigation—a true compass guiding one through the mariner’s journey across the ages.

Educational Outreach and Programs

The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam emerges as a beacon for educational enrichment, breathing life into the vast and storied expanse of Dutch maritime history with targeted programs and activities. It creates a niche where learning unfurls its sails through dynamic, hands-on experiences.

Children’s Activities

Maritime Museum Playroom in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / Via Travelers

The museum is a haven for young minds, offering a treasure trove of children’s activities designed to spark curiosity and anchor maritime heritage in their budding intellects. They can navigate through Doris the Diver, an interactive exhibition for children aged two and up, immersing them in aquatic adventures. Each activity is a history lesson disguised as a wave of fun, ensuring that learning is as entertaining as it is educational.

Academic Collaborations

The museum is not adrift in the sphere of academic collaborations. With stirring exhibitions, the institution partners with educational bodies to offer comprehensive programs tailored to enlighten pupils and students.

These collaborations delve deep into the museum’s reservoir of nautical artifacts and centuries-old stories, allowing academia to sail alongside history’s wind-blown chronicles. Lessons emerge from textbooks, artifacts, and silent discourse between the past and present, engaging scholars in a full-bodied educational journey.

Architecture and Location

The National Maritime Museum is rooted in Amsterdam, with its museums and historical architecture serving as a beacon of the city’s storied maritime past.

Building’s Historical Significance

The building that now houses The National Maritime Museum was designed by Daniël Stalpaert and completed in 1656. It is a vital monument depicting the Dutch architectural ingenuity of the 17th century.

Originally serving as a former naval storehouse here, the Dutch name for the structure, ‘s Lands Zeemagazijn, ‘ translates to ‘the Admiralty’s Warehouse’. This robust building is a testament to the Netherlands’ naval prowess, reflecting an era when maritime power was central to the country’s wealth and influence.

Site and Surrounding Area

Anchored in the heart of Amsterdam, the museum occupies an artificial island created within the city’s harbor. The construction required the installation of 1,800 wooden piles, a feat of engineering that underlines the ambition and resourcefulness of Amsterdam’s dockyard history.

The museum is intrinsically linked to Amsterdam’s identity, deeply rooted in maritime trade and exploration. Visitors can discover how the very location of the museum courtyard interplays with the city’s cultural and historical narrative and visualize the seamanship that once emanated from these docks to points all around the globe.

Museum Services

Sunny day at Amsterdam's National Maritime Museum with Dutch flag and bicycles
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam ensures that its visitors’ needs are met with various services designed to enhance the museum experience. The museum’s facilities cater to various tastes and preferences, from the convenience of a culinary pause to the delight of a tangible memory.

Restaurant and Cafeteria

Amsterdam National Maritime Museum entrance with orange window highlights
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The museum houses a restaurant and cafeteria offering various culinary options. Here, visitors can enjoy a selection of menu items that reflect traditional Dutch cuisine and contemporary favorites.

Situated within an environment that echoes the maritime history of the Netherlands, the dining area provides sustenance and an atmospheric pause within the museum’s maritime narrative.

  • Menu Highlights:
    • Dutch Classics
    • Seasonal Specialties
    • Children’s Choices
    • Vegetarian Options

The restaurant service extends beyond mere dining; it encapsulates the museum’s spirit by providing a space to reflect on the exhibits seen and the stories told while having a meal.

Museum Shop

Adjacent to the echoes of the past, the museum shop stands as a beacon of the present, offering a myriad of memorabilia to ensure visitors can carry a piece of history home with them.

From intricate ship models that harken back to the golden age of Dutch seafaring to navigation instruments that once guided sailors through treacherous waters, the shop serves as a treasure trove for maritime enthusiasts.

  • Featured Items:
    • Ship Models
    • Navigation Instruments
    • Maritime Paintings
    • Themed Books and Gifts

Each item in the shop is carefully selected to resonate with the museum’s theme, offering a gift and a fragment of the Dutch maritime legacy.

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  1. Avatar of Jan Jan says:

    The National Maritime Museum is a great spot for kids!

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