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.

Freedom Museum

Inside a 12 m high dome, resembling the appearance of a parachute, the Freedom Museum explores the concept of war freedom with a focus on the Second World War. Besides the permanent exhibition, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions on related themes. The museum is located in the area where two important operations on the Western Front took place in WW2, namely Market Garden and Veritable. A balcony in the museum allows visitors to view the historic landscape.

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.”

Moco Museum, Amsterdam

Overlooking Museumplein, the historic Villa Alsberg is home to the Moco Museum Amsterdam, dedicated to exhibiting modern and contemporary art and attracting new audiences to art. To fulfil this mission, two permanent exhibitions focus on the icons of modern and contemporary art. Modern Masters celebrates artists who have had a profound impact on art, culture and the world. Contemporary Masters showcases rising talent. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.

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.

National Military Museum

Occupying the former Soesterberg Air Base is the National Military Museum of the Netherlands. And with over 300,000 artefacts, ranging from flint arrow heads to modern fighter jets, this is the largest military collection in the country. Exhibition include five interactive themed galleries, 19 aircraft, and an exhibition exploring what life was like for school children during WWII. On show in The Treasury are numerous old paintings and many different types of classic weapons. There are also indoor and outdoor activities for children.

National Museum of Ethnology

Had your fill of wooden shoes and windmills? Learn about other cultures around the globe at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. Founded in 1837, when it was originally dedicated only to Japanese material, it is one of the oldest ethnographic museums in the world. Over the centuries its collection has grown to encompass material from across Asia, Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. In alliance with several other museums in the Netherlands, it now forms part of the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (National Museum of World Cultures).

Oorlogsmuseum Overloon

The museum is located on the site of the WWII Battle of Overloon between Allied and German forces in September and October of 1944. Opened on 25 May 25 in 1946 as the National War and Resistance Museum, this is one of the oldest museums in Europe dedicated to WWII. In the main exhibition hall there are over 150 examples of vehicles, planes and other large military equipment, many of which were used in various conflicts of the Second World War. A number of items relate to the Cold War in Europe.


No trip to the Netherlands would be complete without paying a visit to this world-renowned museum. Dedicated to the history of Dutch art from 1200 to 2000, the Rijksmuseum is a must-see stop for visitors to Amsterdam. Established at the dawn of the 19th century, it was moved to its present location in 1885, occupying a purpose built structure. From Rembrandt’s ‘Nightwatch’ to the stern of the HMS Royal Charles, captured during the second Anglo-Dutch War, this museum houses some of the nation’s most treasured antiquities.

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden

With artefacts collected from around the ancient world, the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden is an essential stop for anyone interested in archaeology. The museum houses many objects from the Roman period of Dutch history, including a large collection of votive altars depicting the local goddess Nehalennia. Another of the museum’s highlights is the Temple of Taffeh, an original 2,000 year old Egyptian temple gifted to the museum by the Egyptian government, as well as a collection of classical sculpture from Greece, Etruria, and Rome.

RTM Tram Museum

From 1898 to 1966 the RTM was the main company that provided both passenger and freight transport between Rotterdam and the islands of South Holland and Sealand. Modes of transport included trams, buses and ferries. In 1966 the RTM transformed into a transport museum, and with the same rolling stock visitors can take a tram ride through the dunes of De Punt van Goeree, over the Brouwersdam to Scharendijke.

Valkhof Museum

Opened in 1999, the art and archaeology museum was built next to the Valkhof Park, the site of a Roman army camp and then a citadel built by Charlemagne. On display are local Roman artefacts and modern art. One of the highlights is the s-called Nijmegen Calvary helmet dating to the second half of the 2nd century AD, and made of iron, bronze, silver and gold. The museum (photographed) is currently undergoing refurbishment. The collection is on temporary display at Keizer Karelplein 33 (click on the map for this location).

Zuiderzee Museum

Devoted to the maritime heritage of the Zuiderzee region, the Zuiderzee Museum is split into two halves. The indoor museum, which opened in 1950, displays a wealth of material including a selection of historic boats. The open-air museum, opened by Queen Beatrix in 1983, preserves structures from across the region which might otherwise be lost. Today’s visitors can peruse many of these 140 buildings, including private houses, a school, a church, a post office and a fish smokery, to better appreciate the lives of Zuiderzee’s historic inhabitants.

Open-Air Museums in the Netherlands


Archeon is an open air-museum devoted to the rich heritage of the Netherlands. With examples from prehistory to the late Middle Ages, you will see 43 reconstructed buildings ‘inhabited’ by re-enactors in period dress demonstrating traditional crafts and skills through the ages. Dugout canoes and replicas of the Gokstad Viking Ship. From gladiatorial contests in the Roman arena, Viking festivals to medieval jousting, there is plenty to experience.

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.

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.

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.