Oude Kerk Amsterdam

13th-century church, now Calvinist, hosting religious & cultural activities including concerts.

Originally a small wooden church on a bank of the Amstel River in the 1300’s, it grew to be the stately Gothic structure it is today during the 14th century. Over the centuries it was a place for traders to meet and a refuge for the poor.

There are two organs: a transept organ (1658) and the well-known Vater-Müller organ (1724/1738), nowadays both are used for concerts.

The floor of the interior is paved with the gravestones of the rich, famous and royals from centuries past. It is an eerie feeling indeed to be walking around on them, especially when you recognize someone you’ve heard of!

Every year they offer the World Press Photo exhibition to the public, along with other exhibitions, theater and musical concerts from time to time. Be sure to check our always updated event calendar for listings of happenings when they are announced.

Beurs van Berlage

Formerly the Stock Exchange, now a performance hall and exhibition space of note for it’s Amsterdam School architecture, since it was designed by the style’s founder, Hendrik Petrus Berlage (1856- 1934). Located right on the Damrak between Central Station and the Dam Square, you can’t miss it’s beautiful clock tower.

Houseboat Museum

Fine example of Dutch life aboard one of the unique houseboats lining Amsterdam’s canals. Go on board yourself to look around, and marvel at the comfy interiors made from the former cargo holds of these former commercial boats.

Located in the heart of Amsterdam, on the Prinsengracht opposite #296.

Open Wednesday through Sunday 11 to 5 in March through October. During the winter months from November to February open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 to 5pm. Adult admission is 4.75 guilders.

Verzetsmuseum

The Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum)

The museum itself provides the best description:

“The exhibition tells a chronological story from approximately 1930 to 1950, in which information is offered in various ‘layers’. A visitor striding through the exhibition will get an overall picture of a rather indolent Dutch society in the thirties, experience the shock of the unexpected German invasion, then discover that both the oppression and resistance to it gradually intensify in the occupation years as the war progresses, finally to realize that experiences of this period are still playing a role in today’s society. A visitor looking a little more closely will be able to gather more detailed information, particularly from individual examples.”

Info:
Located near the Hortus and the Artis on the east side of Amsterdam. To get there take tram #9 or 14 to Plantage Middenlaan and walk two short blocks to the door.

Allard Pierson Museum

Amsterdam’s finest museum of the antiquities, and especially noted for it’s Egyptian displays (including a complete mummie), as well as a fine library, auditorium and research facilities. The museum has lived in several locations since it’s inception during the 1920’s. Originally on the Weesperzijde, then on Sarphtistraat, and is now in the former headquarters of the Nederlandsche Bank. This rather opulent building, located on the Rokin, is just past the Dam Square, on the left side of the canal when walking from Central Station. There are a number of trams that stop directly in front of the museum (4, 9, 16, 24 and 25).

Admission is quite reasonable, adults pay 4.30 euros for entrance. Children and seniors are less.

Closed Mondays and on Holidays, the museum is open generally from 10 am to 5 pm.

There is no parking in the area, except for a handicapped spot right in front of the door.

Van Loon Museum

If you are curious about how Dutch nobility lived in centuries past you may visit the Van Loon Museum on the Keizersgracht at number 672.

The double-sized canal house was constructed in 1672. The first person to live here was the painter Ferdinand Bol, one of Rembandt’s most famous pupils.

In the sixteenth century the Van Loon’s moved to Amsterdam from the south of Holland to flee the Spanish occupation and became respected members of Amsterdam society. Several Van Loons are former mayors (burgemeesters) of Amsterdam, and the last resident was Thora van Loon – Egidius. She was Dame du Palais of Queen Wilhelmina for forty years.

The house is filled with an amazing collection of artwork, and has exhibitions on a regular basis.

An added bonus here is the spectacular gardens behind the house, which have been extensively renovated over the centuries into an amazing creation, in formal Dutch style of course.

Info:
Open Fridays through Mondays from 11 am until 5 pm. Admission is 4.50 euros for adults. Museumjaarkart holders are admitted free, children under 12 are fee.

Rembrandthuis

The Rembrandthuis Museum is where the famous painter established his own studios here in Amsterdam, and lived with his family from 1639 to 1658.

He eventually left after declaring bankruptcy, and the home has been restored with approximations of it’s original furnishings based on an inventory of his possessions from that time.

Most of the building is devoted to his daily life from the time, and is of course, filled with paintings and art.

Part two of the museum is the new museum wing, where you will find exhibition rooms. The museum shop, the entrance to the museum café, the auditorium and the Rembrandt Information Centre are also located in the new wing.

On the fifth floor is the Rembrandt Information Center, where you can research on DC-rom, in books and other publications. By appointment only.

Info:
Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, except Sundays and holidays when they open from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Admission is 7 euros for adults, children under age 6 are free, 6 to 15 1.50 euros.

Easily reached from the Waterlooplein or the Dam Square.

Eye Infection

Eye Infection was easily the best exhibition I’ve seen at the Stedelijk Museum. As a longtime fan of R. Crumb and his wildly off the wall comics, characters and visuals, I happily devoured his original ink drawings on display at the museum. These included some of his earliest works as well as samples from his more popular creations, Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural and Zap Comics. Crumb’s work seduces you with volumptuous vixens, then grosses you out with obscene visions of carnage and violence, then he manages to lay some obtruse social commentary on top of it all. The amazing thing is it works, and you keep coming back for more!

But the real suprise for me, and definitely the centerpiece of the exhibition is the collection of 40 works by Peter Saul. I wasn’t familiar with his art, which spans the 60s to the 90s, but thanks to the awesome display of such excellent canvases, I’m now a big fan. Saul gets his message across in dramatic style, whether commenting on American materialism, American imperialism, or just the human condition. His bright, colorful comic expressions hit you hard on many levels simultaneously. Some, like Saul’s version of the Mona Lisa are irreverent and zany, others like his anti-war paintings are vivid political statements. You can’t help but be moved by Saul’s work. And it seems the artist was gracious enough to include many of his best works from his private collection. A real joy to experience!

Another exhibit, Pay for your Pleasure by Mike Kelley contains 42 lifesize paintings and quotations of poets, philosophers and criminals. The quotes are not the famous ones you expect, but unusual descriptions of the creative or criminal mind. This traveling exhibit adds a self-portrait of a local criminal which then becomes part of the show when it moves on. The 56- year-old Dutchman Jan-Willem van E., who has spent 28 years in prison, was chosen to succeed the American serial-killer John Wayne Gacy.

The last two exhibits are works by Jim Nutt and H.C. Westerman with an American theme. These are fascinating in their own right, but somewhat overshadowed by the other works on display.

This exhibition was in the year 2002.

Art and Culture in the Jordaan

The Jordaan was build at the large expansion of Amsterdam in early 17th century, as a district for the working class and emigrants. The population increase during the next centuries was enormously, caused by the stream political refugees like protestant Fleming, Spanish and Portuguese Jews and French Huguenots who mainly settled in the Jordaan. It was a poor district with small houses and slums, every little room stuffed with families and lots of children. The entire area was one ghetto with open sewers, canals served for both transport and sewer, and no running water. Around 1900 there lived about 80 thousand people, nowadays about 20 thousand.

Rembrandt
The famous 17th century Dutch writer Joost van den Vondel and photographer Breitner lived in the Jordaan. Artists, like the painter Rembrandt van Rijn in his lesser successful period, also came living in the Jordaan because of the low rents. The house of Rembrandt was on the Rozengracht (Rose canal, still a real canal these days). His studio was on the Bloemgracht (Flower canal). The famous painter was buried in a poor mans grave in the Westerkerk (West church).

Monument Care
During the seventieth of the 20th century the city council had serious plans to mainly demolish big parts of the district and replace them for large ugly blocks of modern buildings. There where many protests against this idea. City protectors, such as Monument Care, where against the loss of the historical town and the people of the Jordaan feared for large rent increases. Thanks to this resistance the plan was modified, there came small-scale projects which would repair the neighborhood, without damaging its original character.
Strolling
A large renovation was started. By then the district was discovered by a new generation occupants: artists, students, and young entrepreneurs. The old inhabitants moved to other neighborhoods and cities like Almere. Partly by these new inhabitants the Jordaan has changed from a slum area to a district for artist, still living on low rent, and the rich who bought the very expensive renovated houses. Nowadays the Jordaan is compared to the rest of the town an oasis of peace with a labyrinth of narrow streets and little canals, nice for strolling around courtyards, art studios, and monumental buildings with stone tablets, old-fashioned ‘brown’ pubs, boutiques or galleries.

Markets
There are also some markets in this area. Saturdays you will find the Lindenmarkt (Lime market), a general market, on the Lindengracht (Lime canal) and a biological food market on the Noordermarkt (North market). Mondays you have a flea market at the Noordermarkt and a market on the Westerstraat (West street) with nice fabrics. On the Noordermarkt you can visit the Noorderkerk (North church), designed by Hendrick de Keyser in the 17th century.

Noorderkerk
Many people think that the Westerkerk (West church) on the Westermarkt is the main church of the Jordaan. It’s true that you can hear its carillon and see the beautiful Westertoren (West tower) everywhere in the neighborhood and that the Jordaanfestival is located on his square, but the church is actually located just outside the Jordaan. So the main church of the Jordaan is the Noorderkerk. The Noorderkerk was built in the northern part in 1620-1623 by Hendrick de Keyser and his son Pieter. The church is still in use as a Protestant church, and like the Westerkerk open to everyone, especially during concerts.

Art studios
Hundreds of artist discovered the Jordaan in the 70th because of the low rent of houses in these little streets. The lucky ones are renting a studio in one of these beautiful inner courtyards of the neighborhood. Every two years the artist organize a so called ‘open studio event’. During these days visitors can have a look in the ‘kitchens’ of the artist. There is also a permanent ornamental route called ‘Jewels in the Jordaan’. Past charming alleyways and picturesque canals it leads to gold- and silversmiths.

Courtyards
The Jordaan has a high concentration of hofjes (inner courtyards), beautiful yards with little houses, many of them with restored houses and peaceful gardens. These courtyards were build by rich people for older women; a kind of charity and protection. Beginning of the 70th most of these courtyards was in a very bad shape, like the rest of the neighborhood. After there restoration they were discovered by artist, students and still some older people with special privileges because of a church membership. Some of the courtyards are closed to the public, and only opened on special days called ‘open monuments days’. But if you do come across one of the entrances, and it is unlocked, most residents won’t mind if you sneak a quiet peek. During the summer some of these yards are opened on Sundays during free concerts called ‘hofjesconcerts’.

Stone tablets
Many houses in the Jordaan have a stone tablet, a stone sign that shows the profession or family sign of the inhabitants. For instance a butcher showed a pig and a tailor a pair of scissors, carved in a stone above the entry. During a walk it’s a pleasure to observe those beautiful, when renovated colorful, antique signs. The first stone tablets are made in the 16th century, when citizens were ordered to use these tablets instead of big wooden gables that obstructed the traffic in these narrow streets.
Museums
Most of the museums in the Jordaan are small. You have the Pianola museum with old mechanical pianos, a literature museum of Theo Thijssen, a houseboat museum, and a fluorescent museum called Electric Lady Land. Just on the boarder of the Jordaan you can find the Anne Frank House on the Prinsengracht (Prince canal).

Jewish Historical Museum

The Jewish Historical Museum was established 70 years ago, and from 1932 till 1987 it was housed in the medieval Weigh House, in the Nieuwmarkt. In 1987, the museum moved to the restored complex of synagogues at Jonas Daniël Meijerplein, just off the Waterlooplein.

Originally opemed as a single room, part of the Amsterdam Historical Museum, it has grown over the years despite the efforts of the Nazis.

When Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, the Jewish Historical Museum closed its doors and tried to save the collection. Objects on loan were returned to their owners and the museum collection was transferred to the Stedelijk Museum. In 1943 the Germans claimed the museum’s objects as Jewish property, and was taken by the Nazis to Germany, and most was lost or destroyed.
 
Reopened in 1955, only a fifth of the original collection remained. New objects were added from public and private collections.
 
The museum hosts art displays and other cultural events geared towards Amsterdam’s Jewish population and visitors.