Amsterdam Museum

museum about the history of the city

former Amsterdams Historisch Museum

Amsterdam used to be a small fishing village on the river Amstel. See, read about, hear and experience how Amsterdam has developed into the metropolis of today.

amsterdam museum

Bird's-Eye View of Amsterdam, 1538

The above plan is the oldest surviving plan of Amsterdam, by Cornelis Anthonisz.

It was commissioned by the governors of the city and hung in the Town Hall for many years.

In this painting, south points up and north points down. Amsterdam is shown as a walled city, situated in a waterlogged area at the mouth of the River Amstel.

Churches, convents and city gates are the most striking buildings in the city which, in 1538, had a population of about 12,000.

Cargo vessels dropped anchor outside the palisade in the IJ. The goods were then loaded onto lighters, which transported them along Damrak to the centre of the city. On Dam Square the goods were weighed and traded.

Many boats were needed for Amsterdam's carrying trade. On the left, outside the canal circling the city, are shipyards, roperies and sawmills.

Take a fascinating journey through 7 centuries of history

The Amsterdam Museum tells the compelling story of the growth and heyday of this unique city.

There's a grand tour for those with plenty of time or, if you're in a hurry, follow the tour of the highlights of the museum.

The museum has on display paintings, models, archeological findings, photographs, but also less likely items such as a playable carillon, a Witkar (environment-friendly vehicle from the 1960s) and a replica of Café 't Mandje (a famous pub in the Red Light District where prostitutes, pimps, seamen and lesbian women came together).

Collection Online

The Amsterdam Museum (AM) has posted photos and descriptions  of some 90,000 of its objects online.


The Amsterdam Museum reflects the tolerance, enterprising spirit and individuality of a city that for centuries has attracted people from the corners of the earth.

The Antwerp merchants and the Sephardic Jews in the 17th century, the farmers from Friesland in the north of the country and Brabant in the south in the 19th century, and the workers from the Mediterranean countries in the 20th century -- they've all contributed to the story of a unique international city. In the Amsterdam Museum you'll share their experiences.

Civic Guard Gallery Tip

The Civic Guard Gallery (Schuttersgalerij), a covered street leading from Begijnensteeg to the museum, is one of the few freely accessible 'museum streets' in the world.

Original group portraits, made between 1530 and 2007 by artists such as Bartholomeus van der Helst and Erwin Olaf, hang in the gallery.

Even Goliath can be found here: our world famous 370-year-old wooden giant.

amsterdam museum

Building and location

The Amsterdam Museum is a complex of 25 interconnected buildings around two inner courtyards.

These very nice buildings belonged to a former monastery and the former Civic Orphanage (Burgerweeshuis). The orphanage was home to thousands of children between 1580 and 1960, many of whom had lost their parents to the plague.

The museum is located in the heart of the old city.

It can be reached via Amsterdam's main shopping street Kalverstraat or from Spui square via a narrow street.

more impressions

amsterdam museum
Allegory on the prosperity of Amsterdam, 1665-1685 by Gerard de Lairesse (1641-1711)
Amsterdam was often depicted as a woman: the City Virgin. She symbolised the prosperity and power of the city. In this painting, she is holding her hand on the globe, which means: I rule the world trade.
amsterdam museum
Money carrier of the Amsterdamse Wisselbank ('exchange bank'), 1600-1699
amsterdam museum
Schutters (Civic Guard) van de compagnie van kapitein Albert Coenraetsz. Burgh en luitenant Pieter Evertsz. Hulft, 1625
by Werner Jacobsz. van den Valckert (1585-1627)
amsterdam museum
Cornelis Bicker, 1654 by Govert Flinck (1615-1660)
This portrait of the famous Amsterdam poet and historian Pieter Corneliszn Hooft (1581– 1647) is a small copy of the painting by Michiel van Mierevelt. On purchasing it in 1837 for 280 guilders, Van der Hoop thought it was an original.
amsterdam museum
amsterdam museum
Pieter Cornelisz. Hooft,
by Jan Maurits Quinkhard (1688-1772)
amsterdam museum
De regentessen van het Burgerweeshuis, 1633-1634 by Jacob Adriaensz. Backer (1608-1651)
Since 1634 this painting has hung in the same. The four regentesses in the picture were in charge of the orphan girls. The woman holding the little girl by the hand is the house mother.
amsterdam museum
Goliath with spear and sword, 1648-1650
by Albert Jansz Vinckenbrinck (1605-1664)
Wooden figures of David, Goliath and his bearer made in the 17th century. David is only 1.60 m high and Goliath towers over him with his 5.30 m.

history & culture

A Short History of Amsterdam