The Houseboat museum (Woonbootmuseum) is a unique museum in Amsterdam showing what it's like to live in a traditional Dutch houseboat.
There are over 2,250 houseboats in Amsterdam though prices are somewhat similar to buying a standard house. Bear in mind that insurance and maintenance charges can be significant.
There are generally 2 types of houseboat in Amsterdam - the traditional iron freighter ships with holds converted into houseboats; or the more modern concrete-based rectangular houseboats which require less maintenance.
The houseboat museum is the Hendrika-Maria, a 23m (75 foot) vessel built in 1914 and originally used as a freighter transporting sand and gravel. In 1967 it was converted into an 80m2 houseboat and remained inhabited until 1997. From then on it became exclusively a museum open to the public run by owner Vincent van Loon. In 2008 it underwent a major restoration.
The boat contains a number of rooms - you first enter the stern into the Deckhouse with 2 very small bedroom compartments and a water pump in the corner. Amazingly, this used to house a family of 4!
You then head into the Galley (kitchen) which used to be the cargo-hold of the ship and is now used as the ticket office and souvenir shop. Have a sit down in the cosy Living Room area which is authentically furnished with 1950s decor and heated by a wood burner.
Continuing on around the partition wall you will encounter a small exhibit of houseboat models, the bathroom (which includes toilet and shower, closed to visitors) and a small kids corner where children can colour in pictures.
At the front of the ship you need to crouch down (watch your head) to enter the projector room which shows a 4 minute presentation of houseboat slides and has a window looking into the bow (fore-cabin area) where the anchor chain is stored and servant's berth is located. Here you can see how the boat is constructed by riveted steel plates.
Laminated sheets give information about the boat in no less than 24 languages. Due to its small size it can feel a little bit crowded if there are a number of other visitors. Hot drink facilities are available on board.
Overall, the houseboat museum is a cheap and fun place to visit. If you have further interest in houseboats in Amsterdam there is also the geWoonboot, an energy efficient modern houseboat moored at the NDSM wharf.
Houseboat Museum Essential Info
Opening Times: 1000-1700, open daily July and August; open Tue-Sun between March-June and September-October; open Thu-Sun November-February.
Getting There: The Houseboat museum is on the Prinsengracht canal near Elandsgracht in the Jordaan area. It is a few minutes walk from Westermarkt or Leidseplein.
Museum, Prinsengracht 296-K, Amsterdam
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