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Unique Museums in Amsterdam
Off the Beaten Path in Amsterdam
Any tourist to Amsterdam will visit the city's major big museums--the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, the Anne Frank House--and those are a must-see! But the city also offers a number of quirky, smaller museums that will pop up in your travel reminisces for years to come.
Try traveling off the beaten trail a little to visit the Katten Kabinet (a museum dedicated entirely to cat art, some by masters such as Picasso), the Tassenmuseum (a museum dedicated to the history of the handbag, and the Museum Willet-Holthuysen, where you can get a glimpse of what life in a canal house was like in the late 1600s.
The Katten Kabinet
Whether you're a fan of our feline friends or of great painters and artists, you'll find something to love in the Katten Kabinet, a museum dedicated entirely to cat art. The founder wanted to memorialize his beloved cat, and thought the best way to do so was to open this museum! (In fact, he and his family still live upstairs, and occasionally a cat will wander into the museum itself.)
There's a Grizzabella costume from the musical "Cats," a mummified cat, and paintings by such greats as Picasso and Rembrandt. Paintings, statues, and other decorative arts are packed into every corner, so you'll want to take your time exploring.
The Katten Kabinet museum is located at Herengracht 497.
The men on your trip might roll their eyes at this suggestion--but the Tassenmuseum, a museum of handbags and purses, is actually fascinating! It has 4,000 purses and handbags, the earliest dating all the way back to the 1500s, and takes you through the history of what is both an art form and a practical necessity.
From centuries-old coinpurses to high-end couture clutches, there's something in the museum to interest everyone, and the English-language panels provide interesting, succinct history while you browse through the collection.
The Tassenmusem is located at 573 Herengracht--you can swing by right after visiting the Katten Kabinet!
Amsterdam is a picturesque city--as you wander along the canals, you'll be in awe of the beautifully preserved townhomes lining the water. (And you'll probably get more than a few peeks inside--the inhabitants aren't too concerned with using curtains to shut out the gawking tourists.)
If you decide you'd like to explore one, head to the Museum Willet-Holthuysen, built for Jacob Hop, Amsterdam's mayor at the time, in 1685. It's exquisitely furnished in that period's style, and boasts not only a large collection of art but also a meticulously kept garden.
You will also have access to a kitchen, a bedroom, the "blue room" (where the men hung out), a sitting room, and a sun room. A short informational video gives you background on the house and its wealthy inhabitants, and other panels throughout the museum give you more information should you want it.
The Museum Willet-Holthuysen is located at 605 Herengracht (perhaps your third stop after the Katten Kabinet and the Tassenmuseum...).
More Unique Museums in Amsterdam
You won't lack for interesting museum experiences in Amsterdam! The adventurous or inquisitive traveler may also want to check out these small but unique museums:
- The Houseboat Museum
- The Tropenmuseum (Tropical Museum)
- The Hash, Marijuana, and Hemp Museum
- The Minature Museum
- Museum Van Loon
Of course, don't skip the larger museums or important monuments--but if you have extra time, choose a few of the quirkier collections and drop by; you won't be disappointed. (Also check out the revolving card racks in your hotel--many of them have discount coupons for the smaller museums, and some of the coupons can be redeemed for a small souvenir at the museum).