Museumplein Museums and Galleries
Museumstraat 1, Museumplein
The Rijksmuseum is the Louvre of the Netherlands—meaning you won't see it all in one go, and it's worth returning to again and again. The Rijks first opened in 1800 under a different name but it's been in its current building since 1855. It underwent a ten-year long rebuilding and renovation process, which was completed in 2013. The heart of the museum is Dutch art from the Middle Ages all the way through the 20th-century. Not surprisingly, it's best to buy a ticket online so you don't have to wait in line at the ticket office. And like other Amsterdam museums, the Rijks is generally more quiet before 10am and after 3pm.
Van Gogh Museum
Museumplein 6, Museumplein
Although the breadth of the Rijksmuseum is impressive, there's something pretty incredible about being able to see the work of a single artist curated in great depth in one place. You'll see many of Vincent Van Gogh's most famous paintings (Sunflowers, Irises, The Potato Eaters) in the museum's permanent collection, as well as fascinating, lesser-known works in the evolving exhibition wing. There are also pieces by Van Gogh's contemporaries (e.g., Émile Bernard, Paul Gaugin, Maurice Denis) on display, which adds an interesting layer of context. All together, the museum tells a thorough story of Van Gogh's life and legacy, both of which are often shrouded in myth. Buy tickets online if you can. Also, depending on what time of year you're in Amsterdam, the museum may have extended hours, and the evenings tend to be less crowded times to visit.
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