Amsterdam: museums


Amsterdam’s most famous museum, and the only one of the major museums we visited on our most recent trip, is the Rijksmuseum. How can I review that? I’m not sure I can – it’s so huge and varied – so I shall pick out one part that has special resonance for me. The library! Isn’t it magnificent?

The library was completed in 1881, when the design was considered innovative – the cast-iron and glass roof construction made it possible to read by daylight. It hasn’t changed much since, and now holds one kilometre of books on art history over four storeys, with another five kilometres in underground storage. I’m glad I don’t have to keep them tidy!

Museum of Bags and Purses

The Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassenmuseum Hendrikje) has a collection of over 5,000 items dating from the 16th century to the present day. A bonus – it’s housed in a building constructed in 1664 as the home of the Mayor of Amsterdam, and restored for the museum in 2007. Two of the rooms still have period features.


This museum dedicated to cats in art is also housed in a grand canal house, though not as fabulously renovated as the Tassenmusuem. It was founded by wealthy financier Bob Meijer in memory of his cat John Pierpoint Morgan III. (I wonder what name the cat answered to?)

On our last visit, I don’t remember the collection extending into the garden. Maybe it wasn’t open because the weather wasn’t suitable. This time, it was my favourite part and I amused myself finding as many black cats as I could (because our last cat, Sally, was black).

The bonus here was that we shared the museum with some real, live cats (one more alert than the other).

House of Bols

Before dinner one evening, we decided that our aperitif would be the House of Bols Cocktail and Genever Experience. An interactive, self-guided tour takes you through the history of this Dutch spirit and gives you information about how it is blended, including the chance to test your own nose. We met again the blue and white KLM canal houses (you might recall the large models on Museumplein from a previous post) of which our own collection numbers 56!

And finally, of course, it was cocktail time. Cheers!

This was my final thematic post about Amsterdam – the others were Canals; Parks and Gardens; and Decorative Buildings. And now for something completely different …


  1. I have two questions, Anabel. What is the total number of those blue and white KLM canal houses? Which museum has Van Gogh’s painting Wheatfield with Crows? Did you visit that one?
    Amsterdam is moving up on my to-visit list now 😉
    Have a great day.


    • Never mind my second question… I am reading your posts backwards, can you tell? (And I found the answer in one of your previous posts. I wanted to read all about your Amsterdam trip at the same time, so I can see a whole picture at once — someone else must feel the same way, yes? Ha.)


      • I’m not sure exactly how many houses there are – there is a new one every year. They are numbered on the back and our highest number is 98, so probably over 100. No, we didn’t go to the Van Gogh Museum this time though we’ve been, maybe 3 times, before. Well worth a visit.


  2. I haven’t commented on your last two postings because I haven’t been well and although I managed to read them the effort of writing was just too much. I enjoyed them, as usual, and now that I’m up and about again I will be able to enjoy what you post in future.


  3. A varied museum. I’ve always associated that first black and white painting from Kipling’s Just So stories. The cat that walks alone ( in the wild wood) I’ve had a copy of it in my hall for the last 30 years and the older I get the more accurate it becomes :o(.


  4. I’ve been to Amsterdam twice and still haven’t been to the Rijksmuseum, but I love the sound of the Bags and Purses Museum and of course Kattenkabinet! Will definitely be checking those two out if I find myself in Amsterdam again!