MuseumsThings To Do

Museum of the Canals in Amsterdam

Museum Het Grachtenhuis

Het Grachtenhuis (Museums of the Canals) is a multimedia museum which highlights the development and importance of the city’s canals and charts some 400 years of history.

The museum is located in a double-fronted grand merchant house on the Herengracht canal in the centre of the city.

grachtenhuis amsterdamThe Grachtenhuis was built between 1663 and 1665 for Dutch merchant Karel Gerards. It was designed by the renowned architect Philips Vingboons (1607-1678). Over the years it was home to a series of other Dutch merchants including Jan Willink who helped finance both the development of New York and the American government during the War of Independence.

Today this listed building is run by a foundation having been restored and opened as a museum.

A visit to the museum comprises of a lively audio-visual presentation (which lasts about 30 minutes) through 5 darkened exhibition rooms on the upper first floor.

The first 2 rooms on the tour give an insight into the initial development of the canals and city walls, how the canals were subsequently expanded into the horseshoe shape as the city grew and how the garden areas between houses on adjacent canals were kept free from industrialisation.

Room 2 is themed as a city planning meeting room and there is a fascinating collection of old Amsterdam maps on view.

Stepping into Room 3 you will find the floor made of sand – which is what much of Amsterdam is built on. The model displays show how wooden piles are used in the construction of the city’s buildings.

Room 4 has a large scale model of the canal house itself – peer through the windows for some striking video effects inside. The room is also surrounded by an illustration of notable houses located on the 3 main canals of the city – Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht.

museum of the canals room 4 amsterdam

Room 5 has a large model of how the Amsterdam canal belt looks today. Accompanying video screens show some notable canal moments – such as the Beatles visit, the Euro 88 football celebrations and various cars being pulled out of the canals.

museum of the canals room 5 amsterdam

A member of staff is on hand during the tour to answer any questions. You then continue the tour by heading downstairs to the period rooms. Here you will find some further exhibits and background on the architect Vingboons and the merchant Willink including 2 animated films.

If the weather is good you are free to go out to the pleasant house garden. There is also a museum shop on site.

The hand held audio set is currently available in 8 different languages – Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese Mandarin and Japanese.

With Amsterdam’s canal belt having UNESCO World Heritage status, the Canal House museum presents its history in a modern, unique way and is a worth a visit.

Note, Museum of the Canals was closed between 13 March and 1 June 2020 due to coronavirus measures. Since reopening on 2 June it is mandatory to pre-book a ticket and timeslot in order to maintain 1.5m social distancing. There are a limited number of visitors allowed and one-way walking routes are in effect.

Museum of the Canals Essential Info

Opening Times 1200-1600 Tue-Fri, 1200-1700 Sat-Sun, closed Mondays.
Admission Prices (2020) €15.00 for adults, €7.50 for children 4-12. Free entry for children 0-3, Museumkaart and Iamsterdam City Card holders. Family tickets available can offer a small discount.
Getting There The museum is short distance from Koningsplein in the heart of Amsterdam, served by trams 2, 11 and 12. Just walk west along the Herengracht canal (south side). Or take metro 52 to Rokin and walk vai Spui.

Museum of the Canals, Herengracht 386, 1016 CJ Amsterdam
T: +31(0)20 421 1656,

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