Since opening its doors back in 1864, the Tropenmuseum, or ‘Museum of the Tropics’, has amassed 175,000 objects from Dutch colonies around the world, making it one of the largest museums in Amsterdam.
Split into eight sizable permanent exhibitions, the items showcase the daily life and possessions of Dutch overseas residents and provide a fascinating glimpse into the diverse cultures and traditions of inhabitants around the globe. Each exhibit focuses on a different geographical region, with Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, all getting a nod. Other key attractions include a vast collection of over 150,000 photographs dating from 1855–1940; a theatrical exhibition featuring masks, puppets and musical instruments from around the world; and a Junior sub-museum, with a series of interactive exhibitions and events, including dance, art and cooking, aimed at children. A varied roster of temporary visual arts and photographic exhibitions play a huge part in the Tropenmuseum’s popularity too, ensuring that the weird, the wonderful and even the downright ordinary are all covered.
The anthropological museum is owned and operated by the Royal Tropical Institute and housed in a specially constructed listed building in East Amsterdam. The sprawling mansion was constructed in 1926 to designs by JJ.Van Nieukerken and the elaborate facade features sculptures, friezes and carvings symbolic of Dutch history and world cultures.