Museum Quarter and the Big Three
Museum Quarter is home to three famous museums – Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art – showcasing the brilliance of Dutch masters, modern art and impressionists. Add Amsterdam Concert Hall, throw in a high-end shopping street or two and you have the Museum Quarter, the most prestigious neighbourhood in Amsterdam.
Museum Quarter is the area around Museum Square and only a-ten minute walk from bustling Leidseplein. The district is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the city. Grand mansions line the streets and especially the houses bordering Vondelpark are very popular among the well-heeled. Fashionistas trot up and down PC Hooftstraat, the Champs-Élysées of Amsterdam.
Highlights of Museum Quarter
Head straight to De Nachtwacht – the Night Watch – by Rembrandt. Continue on to Vermeer and observe how in one of his paintings a kitchen maid pours milk from a jug into a bowl. The whole painting is a play of light and shadow. Most exhibited paintings have been meticulously cleaned. The now vivid colours seem just to be dry. Every touch of the brush is visible. You will need at least a half day to see all the exhibits in the Rijksmuseum.
Van Gogh Museum is the most popular museum in Amsterdam with more than 1.5 million visitors per year. Besides a varied collection of Van Gogh works the museum also exhibits paintings of his contemporaries – Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Henri Toulouse Lautrec.
The Stedelijk Museum is often overlooked in favour of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. The museum’s modern art collection is awe-inspiring. It comprises works of Casimir Malevich, Matisse, Picasso, Newman, Rauschenberg and Warhol. Works of art of The Style and Cobra Movement appeal to many modern art lovers. An overview of European and American trends in art since 1950 often evokes an aha-experience.
Concert Hall / Concertgebouw
Crowned by a golden lyre and watched over by busts of Beethoven, Bach and Sweelinck, late nineteenth century colonnaded Concert Hall has near-perfect acoustics for orchestral concerts. The program is not exclusively classical; the theatre also stages pop and jazz events. Equally popular are the Sunday morning and Wednesday lunch concerts.
Museum Square – People Watching
Museum Square, the wide open space behind the Rijksmuseum is an urban oasis. This grassy spot is popular with joggers, dog-walkers and picnickers in summer. In winter ice-skaters skate up and down the artificial ice-rink. In all seasons, tourists and locals clamber up and around the giant red and white letters of the I AMsterdam logo. This two-meter tall (6.5 ft) and twenty-four meter (26 yards) long wall of letters is permanently located at Museum Square, opposite the Rijksmuseum. A second set pops up in unexpected places in the centre of Amsterdam.
The Shopping Experience
P.C. Hooftstraat is expensivie and chic. This is where you shop for the world’s biggest brands and labels, fashion, shoes and cosmetics. Van Baerlestraat is equally chic. This is the shopping street for brands like Vanilia, Gant and Miss Sixty. Continue on to Cornelis Schuytstraat for Dutch designers. Be sure to include lingerie designed by Marlies Dekkers.