National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

What is the

first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of Amsterdam? Most people

will probably say ‘dikes’, ‘canals’ or ‘houseboats’ and there is a point to

such answer, as this city has always been strongly connected with life on the

water. No wonder that the award-winning National Maritime Museum (or Het Scheepvaartmuseum

in Dutch) shall absolutely make it to your travel agenda as a place devoted

precisely to everything that contributed to the power of the Dutch over the

seas of the world.

The Museum

If you

happen to be strolling along Prins Hendrikkade near the charming Hortus

Botanicus and the amazing Artis Royal Zoo, it is only enough to head a bit to

the north, in the direction of the city old harbor at Kattenburgerplein. You

will also find two bus stops in the vicinities, so taking a right bus from

Amsterdam Centraal or from the area of Eastern Docklands is another good option

to get there.

Once you’re

on the spot, you won’t miss the place, as it is housed in the most

representative building in the surroundings. The museum occupies the premises

of the magnificent s’Lands Zeemagazijn – the main land store of the Amsterdam

Admiralty, found right on the water, facing the neighboring NEMO Science

Center. Until 1973 it had been used by the Dutch Navy and in the past it used

to be the place where the warships of the Dutch Republic were equipped and

prepared for battle. The traces of this military past can be found inside, but

the exteriors are also very unique in their character. The building makes the

impression of a heavy and massive one – and it is exactly such and you are very

right to wonder, how on earth such a huge structure can ‘float’ so gracefully

on the water. The story dates back to 1656, because this is the year when it

was built, according to the design of Daniël Stalpaert (who also designed the

Oosterker and the new town hall for the city, known today as the Royal Palace);

setting it on the water surface required creating an artificial island with

1800 wooden piles sunk deep in the underwater mud, so this was one of the reasons

why this astonishing work was considered very innovative and cutting edge at

the time.


as close to the sea as it can get, the exteriors of the museum offer also a

very unique sight in the form of the replica of “Amsterdam” – a big three-mast

vessel owned by the Dutch East India Company which sank in the English Channel

in 1749 on its maiden voyage to Batavia. Today, it stands proudly erect at the

quay of s’Lands Zeemagazijn and offers a great opportunity to explore its

fascinating interiors.


about interiors, the museum had undergone some serious renovation and

modernization works before opening its doors again to the public in 2011. One

of such major changes is the use of glass roofing to cover the inner courtyard,

so as to create a more welcoming, atmospheric feel. Was it a good move? You may

see for yourself, but if you decide to actually do so, we recommend to go there

closer to the evening as only then you will be able to experience the full

effect of thousands of small LEDs placed in the spaces between the roof panes,

glowing brightly, creating an impression of a starry sky right above your head!

A must-see!

The offer

Inside Het

Scheepvaartsmuseum you’ll find plenty of exhibits, works of art, artifacts and

other interesting items that take on the theme of the sea. The collection is a

kind of homage paid by the Dutch to the element of water, but at the same time,

it celebrates the traditional Dutch way of living, passing on this unique

knowledge to younger generations and visitors to Amsterdam, and all this in a

setting of a state-of-the-art means of expression – multimedia shows,

attraction park, video games and many more blend smoothly with the traditional,

‘marine’ mood of this wonderful place.


A range of

exhibitions is available in this one-of-a-kind museum, but in order not to

spoil everything for you, let us just encourage you by a brief mention of some

of them. Ever wondered what it’s like to be the largest mammal on Earth? Well,

‘The Tale of the Whale’ is about to answer your questions (should you have

any), elaborating on the image of whales and how the natural progression of

technology, knowledge and business affected their population. Since we

mentioned ‘business’, another exhibition you might find quite interesting is

the ‘Port 24/7’ where you’ll get to know all the goods that come through the

port of Amsterdam before being sent to other parts of the world. The quantities

of items involved in the process is mind-blowing, but it all sounds and looks

better if you witness it with your own ears and eyes. Another exciting part of

museum is the ‘Voyage at Sea’ – a virtual adventure at the sea, to put it in a

nutshell; a great, enlightening fun for anyone. Apart from those mentioned

above, the museum offers also many attractions for children, like the ‘Sal

& Lori and Circus at Sea’ – another bright and vivid virtual journey in a

company of friendly characters serving their knowledge to let the youngest ones

learn more of the blue depths, a rich collection of fabulous Dutch paintings

with ‘seascapes’ as their main theme or an exhibition devoted to path-finding

and map-making, displaying seventy globes from before 1850, showing how the

view on our planet as we know changed over time.


There is

even more ‘sea-related’ diversion apart from the exhibitions and collections.

This great place offers a top-quality restaurant (Stalpaert) with

finger-licking cuisine and breathtaking views on the sea. There’s also a

research center, a library boasting an incredible amount of books devoted to

the topic of marine life (over 60000 volumes!) and a shop called ‘The

Warehouse’ that sells a range of diverse gifts and artifacts, each related to

the theme of the sea, of course.

Visit the museum on Kattenburgerplein 1. It is

open seven days a week, from 09:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. The museum shop and the

restaurant are open from 10:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. and the library – from 9:30

a.m. to 05:00 p.m., from Monday to Saturday. More information about the ticket

prices, discounts and chosen dates of the museum being closed can be found at

; alternatively, you may also call 020 52