During my transition to living in Amsterdam full-time, I had the chance to visit the NEMO Science Museum, the largest science museum in the Netherlands, the first week we moved in. It’s practically a requirement and right of passage for a family with a 2-year-old to visit this spot at least once a month.
This remarkable building, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, sits atop the IJ tunnel. This marvelous science and technology museum offers five floors of engaging hands-on activities. I was immediately captivated by the joy of science and technology as I immersed myself in interactive exhibits and real-life laboratory experiments.
One of the top highlights of our visit to the NEMO Science Museum was the spectacular rooftop terrace, which offers a breathtaking view of Amsterdam and the Eastern Docklands. As I stood 22 meters above water level (a veritable mountaintop by Dutch standards), I marveled at the beautiful cityscape.
While walking through the museum, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the exhibits that allowed me to engage with science excitingly and tangibly. As I blew gigantic soap bubbles and witnessed an enormous chain reaction, much to my daughter’s glee, it was a great reminder that science could be informative and entertaining for all ages.
A lot of NEMO is geared towards slightly older children and young teenagers. That didn’t stop my partner from ushering our mesmerized toddler through the museum, or me for that matter, as the Water Power exhibit instantly caught my attention, showing how water flow and pressure can be used in various ways. As a person who loves civil engineering and renewable energy, I was in my element, building dams and the like.
The NEMO Science Museum truly offers an unforgettable experience for anyone interested in the world around them. It’s definitely one of the best museums in Amsterdam and one of the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids.
What We Cover
- NEMO Science Museum Overview
- Location Information
- Exhibits and Activities
- Hands-On Exhibits
- Bilingual Exhibits
- Children’s Science Centers
- Experiments and Science Lab
- Illusion Room
- Facilities and Services
- The Building and Surroundings
- Building Architecture
- Exterior Space
- Views from the Terrace
- Visitor Experience
- Tips for Visiting
- Best Time to Visit
- Age Considerations
- General Tips
- Reviews and Ratings
- TripAdvisor Reviews
- Is the museum suitable for children of all ages?
- Are all exhibits at the NEMO Science Museum interactive?
NEMO Science Museum Overview
The NEMO Science Museum is centrally located in Amsterdam. This eye-catching, jaw-dropping, super science building stands out with its unique design, making it instantly recognizable.
As one of the top attractions in the city, it is situated near multiple hotels, public transport, and transportation options (it’s right near Amsterdam Central Station), ensuring that you can easily reach the museum from all parts of Amsterdam.
Exhibits and Activities
Entering the exhibition center, you’re instantly greeted with five floors filled with hands-on activities, demonstrations, and exhibits catering to all ages. The building showcases the fascinating world of science and technology in captivating and interactive ways.
I had such a blast; my inner child was running wild. Throughout my visit, I found the scientist within, engaged in exciting experiments, explored different scientific concepts, and learned more about technology’s impact on everyday life.
I want to highlight some noteworthy exhibits that I found particularly intriguing during my visit:
- Chain Reaction: I enjoyed this interactive exhibit showcasing the transfer of kinetic energy, the domino effect, and the importance of cooperation and teamwork.
- Energize: This exhibit allowed me to understand more about sustainable energy sources than I already knew.
- World of Shapes: In this exhibit, I explored the world of geometry and how various shapes play a significant role in architecture and engineering.
- Water Power: Perhaps my favorite. This cool hands-on experience has you generating real energy by creating your hydroelectric dams.
Each exhibit had engaging exhibitions, entertaining shows, and informative presentations, keeping us actively involved and entertained throughout the visit. And by “us,” I do mostly mean “me.”
There’s an impressive array of hands-on exhibits catering to various age groups. These exhibits allowed me to interact with the displays and engage my senses. I enjoyed exploring the range of educational parts of the exhibition center, particularly building dams and learning about water conservation at the Water Power exhibit.
For those who know the Netherlands well, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that the NEMO Science Museum offers bilingual exhibits (in English and Dutch), making them accessible to international visitors – at least those who know English. As my English is marginally better than my Dutch, this allowed me to understand the exhibits and grasp scientific concepts better.
Children’s Science Centers
I enjoyed seeing how the exhibition center has kids’ science centers, where they can engage in activities, learn scientific concepts, and even perform experiments in a safe environment. These dedicated spaces for children make NEMO an ideal destination for families.
Experiments and Science Lab
During my visit, I had the opportunity to participate in numerous experiments and lab projects and even visit the on-site science lab. Here, I learned about scientific procedures and got a taste of what it’s like to work in a laboratory setting.
One of my favorite exhibits at NEMO was the Illusion Room. In this area, you’ll find a range of optical illusions that challenge the perception of reality! This fascinating exhibit gave me a glimpse into the underlying principles of human cognition and visual phenomena.
Facilities and Services
Within the NEMO Science Museum, an on-site restaurant is available for visitors to enjoy a meal or grab a snack. The restaurant offers various options, from sandwiches and salads to hot meals and desserts.
The menu also includes vegetarian and vegan options for different dietary preferences. The restaurant’s seating area boasts a relaxing atmosphere, providing a perfect spot for taking a break and refueling during a day of exploration.
On top of its marvelous exhibitions, the center features an impressive library collection related to science, technology, and innovation. The library was an excellent resource for delving deeper into topics I encountered during my museum visit. The free library was an excellent addition to the exhibition center experience, with books and materials for all age groups and interests.
The Building and Surroundings
When I used to visit Amsterdam as a tourist, I always noticed the striking architecture of the NEMO building but never stopped in to see it. Designed by globally recognized architect Renzo Piano, the structure is reminiscent of a ship, fitting perfectly with Amsterdam’s maritime history. The museum stands out as an icon amidst buildings in the cityscape with its copper-green exterior and unique shape.
The museum offers five interactive exhibits floors catering to children’s (and my inner child’s) curiosity. The innovation gallery’s open and spacious floor plan allows for exploration and discovery, while the clever use of natural light creates a welcoming atmosphere.
The exterior space surrounding the NEMO Science Museum further enhances its appeal. The building sits atop the IJ Tunnel, seamlessly integrating with the urban environment and providing a unique landmark. A range of open spaces, benches, and walking paths enable visitors like me to take a break and soak in the atmosphere before or after delving into the museum’s exhibits.
In addition, the renowned architect incorporated sustainability features into the museum, taking advantage of natural ventilation and solar panels. This demonstrates a modern, scientific approach to architecture that considers both form and function.
See Related: Museum Sammlung Rosengart Tour: What to See & Do
Views from the Terrace
One of my favorite aspects of the museum is the rooftop terrace, which offers amazing panoramas of Amsterdam’s skyline and intricate canal systems. It’s a perfect spot to unwind and marvel at the city’s beauty. The terrace also features a café, where I enjoyed coffee while enjoying the scenery. As a bonus, access to the roof terrace is free, even without an admission ticket to the exhibition center.
No matter your interests and where you start your tour, the atmosphere at NEMO is fun and engaging. It’s designed to captivate all ages with hands-on activities across five floors and does the job well. This unique cultural institution and science center appeal to kids and adults, making it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
The wackiness of the unique building adds to the overall ambiance, too. The rooftop terrace offers a stunning view over Amsterdam and the Eastern Docklands, further enhancing the atmosphere of the best place for kids for sensational science in Amsterdam.
Cleanliness is a priority at the museum – which is saying something since Amsterdam is one of the cleanest cities in Europe. The exhibits, common areas, and restrooms are immaculately maintained and very clean – great for kids with sticky fingers.
As a highly interactive science museum filled with kids, it’s not surprising that the environment can be pretty noisy. Nonetheless, I did not find it overwhelming or detract from the overall experience. I found the lively atmosphere to be an integral part of the entire NEMO experience. After all, it’s all about making science fun and accessible for kiddies!
Tips for Visiting
The NEMO Science Museum operates at specific hours, depending on the time of the year. Check their official website for the most up-to-date opening hours to plan your visit.
Best Time to Visit
Visiting the NEMO Science Museum is best on a weekday, as weekends are more crowded. Weekdays typically offer a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing my family and me to explore the exhibits without feeling rushed. Moreover, you can enjoy the sunshine on your trip to the open-air rooftop terrace on a sunny day – it’s one of the museum’s highlights and one of the best views of Amsterdam.
While geared towards older kids, tweens, and young teens, from my experience, the NEMO Science Museum is suitable for all ages. Nonetheless, it’s essential to note that some hands-on experiments might be ideal for older kids who can follow instructions safely. Small kids will still enjoy the interactive activities like blowing gigantic soap bubbles or learning about water power.
- Arrive early: I recommend getting to the museum earlier in the day, as it helps avoid crowds and provides ample time to explore the exhibits.
- Wear comfortable shoes: Given the five floors of interactive exhibits, I suggest wearing comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking around quite a bit.
- Visit special exhibitions: Watch for special exhibitions to enhance your understanding of specific science topics.
- Bring a camera: I always take pictures to capture memories from my day at NEMO.
- Ask questions: Don’t hesitate to ask questions – the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, making the learning process enjoyable for everyone.
Reviews and Ratings
NEMO enjoys a solid reputation on TripAdvisor, ranking #76 out of 974 attractions in Amsterdam. With more than 4,400 reviews, the museum is praised for its captivating exhibits on science and technology, which are suitable for all ages. The hands-on equipment-on activities spanning five floors are mentioned to be educational but also fun and engaging.
Is the museum suitable for children of all ages?
Yes, the NEMO Science Museum is suitable for children of all ages. The museum offers a variety of interactive exhibits and activities designed to be educational and engaging for children, making it a great destination for families.
Are all exhibits at the NEMO Science Museum interactive?
The NEMO Science Museum is known for its interactive exhibits, allowing visitors to engage hands-only with science and technology. The specific exhibits and their level of interactivity may vary.