Het Scheepvaartmuseum is the Dutch National Maritime Museum located on the eastern docklands area of Amsterdam. The museum is one of the city’s premier attractions. Book your Scheepvaartmuseum tickets here
The Scheepvaartmuseum is housed in het Zeemagazijn (the Arsenal), a former Admiralty of Amsterdam storehouse built in 1656 which was designed by Dutch architect Daniel Stalpaert. It remained a navy building until 1973 when it was converted to the country’s national maritime museum.
The museum was closed between 2007 and 2011 and underwent a complete renovation – the resulting highlight of which is the stunning glass roof over the inner courtyard made up of some 1,200 glass pieces. The design is inspired by compass lines seen on old nautical charts.
The museum is divided into 3 gallery sections – West, East and North – you can pick up the ‘compass’ leaflet to guide you around.
West Wing – This section has The Tale of the Whale (level 1) which looks at the large sea creature hunted to near extinction. Amsterdam Port & City (level 2) considers the relationship between the port and the city in the past, present and future. Doris The Diver is an interactive maritime experience for young children aged 2+.
East Wing – This section has Maps & Marvels (level 1) which includes one of the finest collection of maps and globes in the world. The Yacht Models (level 1) contains a collection of 74 models of sailing, rowing and motor boats in the Netherlands.
Navigational Instruments (level 2) is a beautifully presented exhibition showing how sailors used the stars to navigate; The Ship Decorations (level 2) highlights the symbolism and craftsmanship of carved ship heads, taking inspiration from biblical and mythological themes.
The East Wing also has two Solebay tapestries on show which were designed in England by maritime artist Willem van de Velde the Elder (1611-1693). The tapestries depict scenes from the 1672 naval battle between the Dutch and joint English-French fleet off the east coast of England near Solebay (Suffolk).
North Wing – The main gallery on the ground floor houses the Republic at Sea exhibition with some 50 masterpieces telling the story of how the Netherlands became a significant naval power. The first floor hosts temporary exhibitions.
From the North Wing, head outside to visit The Royal Barge, a richly decorated royal ‘sloop’ vessel commissioned by King William I in the early 19th century.
You can also get on board and explore the replica VOC ship East Indiaman Amsterdam which is 48m in length and has 16 cannons. There is a virtual reality exhibition on board called Dare to Discover.
The original ship was wrecked in a violent storm off the English town of Hastings (East Sussex) in 1749 on its maiden voyage to Asia. Having been preserved in mud over the centuries, the ship was excavated in the 1980s and was able to provide insight into shipbuilding techniques of the time.
In 1985 construction began on the life-size replica – which has been moored ever since at the Maritime Museum.
Also moored is the steamship Christiaan Brunings built in 1900 as an icebreaker and executive vessel.
Overall, the exhibits at the museum are presented in a modern and innovative way with full use of multimedia and excellent bilingual (Dutch/English) labelling.
A free audio tour is available in 11 languages (Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean) which can show you the collection highlights in 60 minutes.
The museum has a café-restaurant, shop and library just off the courtyard. Locker facilities can be found on the lower ground level below.
The Scheepvaartmuseum is certainly one of Amsterdam’s crown jewels housed in a unique building and reflecting the country’s rich maritime history.
Scheepvaartmuseum Essential Info
|Opening Times||1000-1700 Tue-Sun, closed Mondays. Also closed on 27 April, 25 December and 1 January.|
|Admission Prices (2023)||€17.50 for adults, €8.50 for children 4-17. FREE entry to children 0-3, I Amsterdam City Card and Museumkaart holders.|
Alternatively, order the I Amsterdam City Card online here which includes free entrance to the Scheepvaartmuseum.
|Getting There||The museum is a 15-20 minute walk east of central station – either via the Central Library and NEMO or along Prins Hendrikkade. By public transport take GVB bus 22 (Muiderpoortstation) from the central station IJ-side. Get out at stop Kattenburgerplein.|
Scheepvaartmuseum, Kattenburgerplein 1, 1018 KK Amsterdam
T: +31(0)20 523 2222, hetscheepvaartmuseum.com
Last updated 27 January 2023. This article was first published in 2013 and has been regularly updated.
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