The Museumkaart (museum card) is an annual discount card pass which gives unlimited free entry into almost 400 museums in Netherlands - including 34 museums in Amsterdam.
The card will literally pay for itself after only a few visits, particularly when used at major museums, so it's well worth the investment and highly recommended.
The card is also known as the Museumjaarkaart or MJK - it is more aimed at Dutch residents and not really promoted for tourist use. However, anyone can buy a Museumkaart over-the-counter at major participating museums which are listed below. 2013 prices:
A Museumkaart for adults costs €49.90 (includes a €4.95 join fee)
A Museumkaart for children aged 0-18 costs €27.45 (including €4.95 fee)
Note that online purchase and delivery is only available to residents of Netherlands and the Museumkaart.nl website is in Dutch only.
When buying at a museum, the card comes with an optional form to "join" the organisation. However as a non-resident visitor there is no obligation and probably not much point in filling in this form. Most Dutch residents do fill in the form so their card is insured against loss and they can set up an automatic direct debit to renew the card, thus avoiding the admin fee. If you do want to fill in the form you can either send it away by post or hand it back to the museum.
The museum then needs to "activate" your card - you do have to fill in the small sticker that comes with the main form. Write the holder's name (naam), gender (M/V) and date of birth (geb. datum) plus the card's expiry date (vervaldatum kaart) and then stick it onto the card. No ID or photograph is required to buy a Museumkaart, however the card should not officially be used by someone else.
You can also buy an unactivated card as a present which can be activated by the holder on the first day of use.
When visiting a museum you simply present your card at the admission counter and they will scan the barcode on the back. Some museums will give you a printed ticket, others will just let you in.
Which museums in Amsterdam can you buy a Museumkaart over-the-counter?
The card can also be bought at the COBRA Modern Art Museum in Amstelveen.
All the above museums give standard free entry with the Museumkaart although note that the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and Rembrandt House often require a supplement during special exhibitions.
We would probably recommend buying the Museumkaart at one of the quieter museums (such as Willet-Holthuysen Museum on Herengracht, open daily or Allard Pierson Museum near Spui/Dam Square, closed Mondays) as you are unlikely to encounter long queues.
Which other museums in Amsterdam offer free entry with the Museumkaart?
De Appel Arts Centre
Can I jump the queue with a Museumkaart?
Only the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum have fast-lane entry for Museumkaart holders. Otherwise you just queue up as normal at a participating museum and present your card at the desk. The Hermitage also has self-scan machines for museum cards in the foyer, although these are sometimes out of action.
If you wish to visit the Anne Frank House and avoid the large queues then purchase your ticket online which gives you a specific entry time. Museumkaart holders only need to pay a €0.50 fee.
Can I visit a museum more than once?
Yes, the card gives unlimited entry to participating museums.
Which major museums of note in Netherlands offer free Museumkaart entry?
400 museums in total in the Netherlands - each major town and city should have
a museum where the card is valid.
The Museumkaart is a no-brainer if you wish to visit a number of museums during your stay in Amsterdam and/or Netherlands. Considering the €15 current entry fee to get into each of the Hermitage, Maritime Museum, Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk - means the card could quickly pay for itself.
For expats and residents it can offer excellent value over the whole year. It is also great to have the flexibility to just pop into a museum for 30 minutes without feeling the pressure to see everything.
The Museumkaart is an unbeatable deal - however, some tourists choose to buy the Iamsterdam City Card which is valid 1-3 days and includes museum admission, public transport and some other bonuses and discounts.