Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art Galleries, Museums & Open-Air Museums
in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has an estimated 1,000 museums and art galleries. With an impressive breadth of topics and aimed at people of all ages. From the archaeology museums dedicated to the Neolithic communities and their megalithic tombs to some of the finest art galleries with their collections of modern and contemporary art. These collections are housed in buildings that have their own fascinating history, as well as contemporary state-of-the-art and innovative museums of the future.

Museums & Art Galleries in the Netherlands

Allard Pierson Museum

Focusing on the great civilisations of the ancient world, the Allard Pierson is the archaeological museum of the University of Amsterdam. Among its collections is much material from ancient Egypt, the Near East, and the Mediterranean, including a noted selection of classical Greek pottery and Roman sarcophagi. Also at the museum are a selection of rare books, cartographic material, and one of Europe’s largest Jewish collections.
The museum takes its name from a 19th-century clergyman who served as the university’s first professor of classical archaeology.

Archaeological Museum Haarlem

The Archaeological Museum Haarlem occupies the cellar of the Vleeshal, a 17th-century building on the Grote Markt where the city’s residents once bought their fresh meat. The museum explores the archaeology of Haarlem and of the Kennemerland region more broadly, covering the area’s prehistoric inhabitants through to the urban developments of the Middle Ages. Temporary exhibits supplement the main display collection. The Frans Hals Museum is located in the same building and hosts an exhibit of modern and contemporary art.

Fries Museum

Based in Leeuwarden, the Fries Museum first opened its doors in 1881. Created by a group committed to the preservation of Frisian culture, it explores the distinct heritage of the Frisian people, different in various respects from that of communities elsewhere in the Netherlands. Collections include substantial quantities of medieval and early modern material as well as a display devoted to the famous spy Mata Hari, who was born in Leeuwarden. The museum relocated to a new, state-of-the-art building in 2013.

Het Scheepvaartmuseum - National Maritime Museum

From the late 16th century on, the Netherlands established itself as one of the world’s major maritime powers, a period sometimes referred to as the Dutch Golden Age. Visitors can learn more about this period, and the Dutch relationship with the sea more broadly, at the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam. Occupying a structure built in 1656, the museum underwent a major refurbishment completed in 2011. As well as its internal displays, the museum hosts a replica of the Amsterdam, a Dutch East India Company vessel that sank in 1749.

Hunebed Centre

At the Hunebed Centre (Hunebedcentrum) archaeological museum in Drenthe, visitors are transported back into prehistory. Located only a short distance from D27, the largest known dolmen (‘hunebed’) in the Netherlands, the Hunebed Centre focuses on the story of the Neolithic (New Stone Age) people who build these monuments. As well as an indooor museum displaying archaeological finds from the area, the Hunebed Centre includes a reconstructed Neolithic village. The museum is located inside the De Hondsrug UNESCO Global Geopark.

Kaap Sil Museum

The Netherlands has a long heritage as a maritime nation, and during the Dutch Golden Age of the 16th and 17th centuries the coastal settlement at Texel was an important hub for shipping. This heritage is now showcased at the Kaap Sil Museum, which preserves historic structures such as fishermen’s cottages, a grain mill, a smithy and a bakery. Although originally an open-air museum, these structures are now protected from the elements by an overarching roof. The indoor museum displays feature many artefacts recovered from shipwrecks off the Dutch coast.

Kunstmuseum den Haag

Originally established in 1866, the Kunstmuseum den Haag (or Art Museum of the Hague) now occupies a purpose-built art deco structure designed by the architect H.P. Berlage during the 1930s, one with sumptuous high-quality interiors. The museum is now home to over 160,000 works of art, ranging from collections of Delftware and Persian ceramics through to paintings by ‘modern masters’ like Monet, Picasso, and Kandinsky. The museum also boasts one of the world’s largest collections of works by the abstract painter Piet Mondrian.

Maritime Museum

With an array of interactive exhibits, the Maritime Museum at Rotterdam is not your typical museum. Visitors can learn hands on about the history of seafaring and go aboard some of the real working ships docked in the adjacent harbour. The museum also houses an array of impressive artefacts, such as the oldest model ship in Europe, dating back to the 15th century, and one of only three surviving original world maps drawn by the famed cartographer Gerard Mercator. The museum also hosts a library for those undertaking research into maritime history.

Mauritshuis Museum

Located in the centre of the Hague, the Mauritshuis is an art gallery occupying a 17th-century building originally designed as the home of John Maurice of Nassau. Maurice was a powerful man, serving as governor of Dutch Brazil, and the red-brick house reflected his social status, as well as the Dutch architectural fashions of the day. Today, the Mauritshuis has a substantial collection of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish paintings, including world-famous works like Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” and Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp.”

Museum de Fundatie

The Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle is a gallery of the visual arts. Its collection stretches as far back as the Middle Ages, although modern art forms the dominant part of its displays. Originally established in 1958, the museum has moved homes over the years. Today, it is housed in a building that intriguingly combines a neoclassical façade with a giant, post-modernist glass dome stuck onto the back. Even if the mish-mashed architecture is not to your taste, a viewing platform offers impressive views across the city.

Open-Air Museums in the Netherlands

Achterhoeks Open Air Museum

Preserving a historic farmyard environment, the open-air museum at Achterhoek in Gelderland is also known as Erve Kots, a name derived from its former resident, J.H. Kots. Owned by the Weenink family for three generations, it has been an open-air museum since 1936. Along with historic agricultural structures like a mill, clog factory, and sawmill, the farm continues to provide a home for livestock, ensuring that it remains an active working attraction. A café and shop selling local produce are located in the museum grounds.

Afrika Museum

The wooded hills of Berg en Dal may not seem like the most obvious place to learn about Africa’s rich cultural heritage, but this is the home of the Afrika Museum. Spread across both indoor and outdoor displays, the museum showcases the life and culture of communities in West African countries like Mali, Cameroon, and Benin, as well as in the Southern African kingdom of Lesotho. Accompanying the historical artefacts are reconstructions of traditional architecture and a range of contemporary artworks.


For those who prefer a more hands-on approach to experiencing history, look no further than Archeon. An open air-museum devoted to the rich heritage of the Netherlands, its displays span a period from the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) right through to the Late Middle Ages. Visitors can walk through reconstructed settlements from various eras and interact with re-enactors in period costume. From gladiatorial contests in the Roman amphitheatre to medieval jousting, there is plenty to see – especially for visitors with children to keep entertained.

De Spitkeet

Established in the 1990s, this small open-air museum in Friesland showcases historic buildings from this northern region of the Netherlands. Among the structures that have been preserved here is a small turf hut of a kind that would have been used by agricultural labourers as temporary accommodation, as well as the similarly cramped cave-house also used by the very poor in the 19th century. This selection of structures give visitors a good idea of what rural Friesland life was like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Ellert and Brammert Open-Air Museum

The Ellert and Brammert Open-Air Museum (Openluchtmuseum Ellert en Brammert) in Schoonoord is named after two giants who, according to legend, inhabited the Drenthe region. The open-air museum focusses on the built heritage of this area from prehistory to the 19th century; with both reconstructions and original, preserved buildings. Its exhibits include various houses, a schoolhouse, a church, a village prison, and reconstructions of a Neolithic dolmen and a Saxon farmhouse.

Erve Eme Archaeological Open Air Museum

Devoted to the Early Middle Ages, the volunteer-run Erve Eme Archaeological Open-Air Museum in Gelderland seeks to recreate a farmstead scene as it may have looked around the year 700. Home to a range of archaeological reconstructions, including a timber hall, it plays host to re-enactors engaging in early medieval activities like archery, blacksmithing, pottery, and basket weaving. Focusing on educational events for school children, the museum is also open to the general public on Sundays during the warmer months.

Eynderhoof - Limburg Open Air Museum

An open-air museum in Limburg, Eynderhoof showcases life in the region as it existed around the start of the 20th century. Located in a tranquil rural environment, the museum has been operational since 1990. Among its displays are a range of workshops, a farmhouse, a syrup distillery, a forge, and a sawmill, around which can be found a selection of gardens growing vegetables and native species, thus cultivating the impression of a village preserved from the past. Various traditional craft activities are displayed in the summer months.

Hoogeland Open Air Museum

Launched in 1959 at a high point in the village of Warffum, the Hoogeland Open Air Museum (Openluchtmuseum het Hoogeland) hosts over 20 buildings dating from the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of these stand in the original locations where they were first built, but others have been brought to the museum from other parts of the province. Among the structures on display are a range of domestic dwellings, shops, and a windmill, helping to give visitors an impression of village life in the Groningen Hoogeland of past centuries.

Iron Age Farm, Dongen

Those fascinated by the Iron Age will not want to miss the reconstructed village of Dongen (IJzertijdboerderij Dongen) in North Brabant. Here can be found several timber structures built in styles believed to have been used during the Dutch Iron Age, as revealed by archaeological excavations at Beek and Donk. Activities like wood-working, pottery, and metalwork are carried out by volunteers in period costume. Largely catering to school groups, the site is also open to the general public on select days throughout the year.

It Damshûs

At the open-air museum of It Damshûs in Nij Beets, Friesland, the lives of the local peat diggers are put centre stage. Focusing on the period between the 1860s and the 1920s, the museum preserves a number of historic cottages where the workers once lived as well as several windmills and a local church, helping to capture an important facet of Dutch social history. Nearby, the Suder pumping station, built in the 1920s to help drain the peatlands, can be seen. Boat trips and excursions from the museum are available by prior arrangement.