On a recent spring break trip to Amsterdam and London, we visited some of the world's best known museums including the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House. However, we also enjoyed visiting three small lesser-known museums - Amsterdam Cheese Museum, Amsterdam Tulip Museum and Kattenkabinet.
These three small museums located in the historic Canal District of Amsterdam were all interesting in their own right and ideal for just popping in for a quick look around. We spent about 30 minutes in each as opposed to the much greater time commitment required for the better-known museums. Both the Amsterdam Cheese Museum and the Amsterdam Tulip Museum are located just down the street from the Anne Frank House so we stopped by both of them after we were finished there.
This was probably my 11 year-old daughter's favourite as it is part museum but mostly a cheese shop. Visitors enter the cheese shop on the main level where there is a great variety of cheeses on display and plenty of samples to taste. Admission to the museum is free, however, we couldn't leave without purchasing a couple of rounds of cheese to take home with us as well as a bag of Mini Stroopwafels.
Enjoying the samples at Amsterdam Cheese Museum
The actual museum is located on the lower level of the shop. Here you can browse the exhibits to learn more about the history of Dutch cheese making and see some of the implements used. There are also costumes available so you can have fun taking a family photo dressed up like traditional Dutch farmers.
The Amsterdam Tulip Museum is another small private museum where the shop is front and centre. Our early March visit was pre-tulip season so I wanted to visit this museum to learn a little more about the tulips that I had wanted so badly to see.
The museum has multimedia presentations as well as exhibits about the history of the tulip and art work featuring tulips. We browsed the museum at a fairly quick pace and then headed back upstairs to the lovely shop where there is all manner of tulip-themed merchandise available for purchase. It is even possible to buy tulip bulbs (in season) and have them shipped home for you or order them for fall delivery.
Kattenkabinet (Cat Cabinet)
This third museum is probably the most whimsical museum that I have ever visited. Kattenkabinet, which has recently reopened following renovations, is a museum devoted entirely to artwork depicting cats including sculptures, paintings and posters. I wouldn't even have known about the museum if it hadn't been for a Twitter message from Cassie of Ever in Transit suggesting that we visit. We had a little trouble finding the museum but once we were inside I was glad that we hadn't given up.
The museum, housed over two floors of a historic 17th century house, was founded by Bob Meijer in honour of his ginger cat, John Pierpont Morgan (1966-1983) and includes the J.P. Morgan Memorial on the upper floor. There are apparently several cats living in the building which often roam the museum but, unfortunately, we didn't meet them during our visit.
What You Need To Know
- Amsterdam Cheese Museum is located at Prinsengracht 112 just a short walk from Anne Frank House. The museum is open Monday - Sunday 9am - 8pm. There is no admission charge.
- Amsterdam Tulip Museum is located at Prinsengracht 116 (across the street from Amsterdam Cheese Museum). Open daily from 10am - 6pm (closed April 26 and December 25 - check website to confirm hours). Admission: Adults - 5 Euros; Students - 3 Euros; Families - 15 Euros. Free admission to the Tulip Museum is included with the I Amsterdam City Card.
- Kattenkabinet is located at Herengracht 497 -1017. Opening hours Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm; Saturday and Sunday 12pm - 5pm. Admission: Adults - 7 Euros; Students - 4 Euros; Children under 12 are free.