The Netherlands might have lots of tourists, but with half the Dutch population decanted into France, Spain and Turkey, summer can be a great time to visit a museum. Here are the Dutch News crew’s favourites.
The botanical gardens in Amsterdam are a really fun and weird oasis in the middle of the city. It’s beautiful and quiet and you don’t expect to see giant agaves and palm trees. It’s so peaceful. And I like the butterflies because you can go into their enclosure and they land on your head.
If you like mysteries, then a visit to the mummies in a church crypt in the hamlet of the Wieuwerd in Friesland is well worth a visit. In 1765, people repairing the church found a crypt with 11 coffins containing bodies that had become mummified and to this day no one ever explained why the bodies do not decay. It’s a fascinating place, with a very old school exhibition, and the church is lovely and cold on a hot day.
I change my mind on this one as I discover more about the Netherlands. Recently, due to the ongoing research that I’m doing, it’s the Keringhuis by the storm surge Maeslantkering. It’s the place to go if you want to learn about how the Dutch are taming and working with the water around them.
The Museum Voorlinden in leafy Wassenaar mounted a comprehensive exhibition of works by Louise Bourgois a couple of years ago, an artist I admire very much. Since then it can do no wrong. It also has beautiful grounds to wander in, and a great restaurant. It’s a bit of a bugger to get to on public transport from Amsterdam but that’s its only drawback.
Nobels Nostalgisch Museum is a the Dutch version of the sort of roadside ‘museum’ that once lined the highways of America. It’s, basically, a turn-of-the-century small town housed in a warehouse on Ameland. Full of walk-through storefronts, vintage cars, and plenty of mannequins in period clothing, it’s very kitschy and just a bit creepy. Definitely not for every taste, but I’m sure it’s helped fuel plenty of hazy childhood memories of summertime trips out to the island.
The Kunstmuseum (formerly the Gemeentemuseum) in The Hague deserves to be better known: it’s the home of Victory Boogie Woogie as well as other works by Mondriaan, Kandinsky and Karel Appel, housed in a gorgeous Art Deco building. Then head up to Scheveningen Boulevard and check out the herring-eating giant and the rest of the SprookjesBeelden (fairytale figures) – a free and fun showcase for the Beelden aan Zee sculpture museum at the top of the steps.
The Maritiem en Juttersmuseum Flora on the Frisian island of Texel is an extraordinary collection of finds washed up onto the island’s shores including wartime relics, cargo spilled from foreign freighters and swag hurriedly discarded by smugglers. Outside, there are colourful artworks made of beachcombed plastic, marooned vessels (including a lifeboat capsule) that you can explore, and a large grassy playground.
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