Het Scheepvaartmuseum


The day before we left for our recent break in Amsterdam I was watching a programme on Channel 4 about the south coast of England. One of the features on the programme was about a buried shipwreck in the sand near to Hastings – the remains of the VSO sailing ship, Amsterdam. After showing the location of the wreck the presenters whizzed over to Amsterdam where they visited a reconstruction of the very same ship at the National Maritime Museum. Having seen the programme we decided it would be interesting to go and have a look for ourselves. So on the Wednesday of our holiday we took the tram to Centraal Station and walked along the waterfront to the Maritime Museum.

On the way we passed houseboats and historic ships and boats moored along the quays.


On the way we made a brief visit to Nemo, the Science Museum. The building, designed by Renzo Piano reminds me of a ship’s prow ploughing through the water.

DSC03172 Visitors can walk up onto the roof where there’s a great view across the water and over to the city.


I really liked the cartoon panorama designed by Jan Rothuizen



After a coffee in the roof top café, we made our way round the harbour to the Museum where we could see the Amsterdam moored alongside.


The museum building is a former naval storehouse and magazine, built in 1652.


Today the central courtyard has been covered with a glass roof, just like in the British Museum


There are exhibits in the North, west and east wings. We decided to start by walking through to the harbourside to have a closer look at the Amsterdam


Visitors can board the ship and look around both above and below deck



Although it was a merchantman it carried guns for protection







The museum recently introduced a new attraction on the ship – a virtual reality experience Dare to Discover which

transports visitors back to the 17th century when Amsterdam was the world’s largest port and the Netherlands was a world power. The VR journey allows visitors to witness a number of unique happenings from those days such as the construction of the Zeemagazijn – now home to Het Scheepvaartmuseum – and the building of warships on the shipyard premises. They can even join a farewell on the quayside where the crew is boarding one of the Dutch East India Company’s ships.


There are two other boats to see on the harbourside,


including the very ornate Royal Barge


It was dinner time so we went back inside and enjoyed a light meal ( a hearty soup) before heading over to the east wing to explore the exhibitions.

There was an excellent collection of old maps (I found them fascinating and could have spent longer looking at them, including the interactive electronic versions that visitors could view on computer terminals – you could even email copies to yourself!)


There were also displays of models of yachts, navigational instruments,


ship decorations


and an extensive paintings of ships


and albums of old photographs, all displayed in interesting, engaging and imaginative ways.

Moving over to the west wing we visited the exhibitions about life in the Dutch Golden Age and whaling.


In the north wing we visited the exhibition about the Port of Amsterdam which includes a scale model of the modern port

Time was getting on and although there was more to see but  We’d spent considerably longer in the Museum than I’d expected and we were ready for some fresh air. So it was time to head back along the harbourside to get the tram back to our apartment. We had a meal booked in a nice restaurant in the evening and needed to get ready.

So an enjoyable few hours and glad I was glad that I’d seen the programme on Channel  4 which gave me the idea of visiting the museum.

4 thoughts on “Het Scheepvaartmuseum

    • Yes, the first time we visited we did the same. And wouldn’t have thought about visiting the maritime museum if the C4 programme hadn’t sparked my interest. Glad it did, though 😊

  1. That looks fun. There’s a museum in Stockholm dedicated to the Vasa, another salvaged ship. It’s my brother’s favorite place to visit-it is huge and gets a good amount of visitors. The Dutch one looks also really interesting.

    • I went to Stockholm quite a few years ago for a conference but managed to go to the Vasa museum. I took some photos but a year or so later I had my laptop pinched and I hadn’t backed up the photos 😦 Lesson learned!

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