Since opening in 1864, the Tropenmuseum (Museum of the Tropics) has amassed 175,000 objects from Dutch colonies, making it one of the largest museums in Amsterdam. Divided into eight permanent exhibitions, the museum is designed to provide insight into the daily lives and diverse cultures of people from all over the globe.
Each exhibit focuses on a different geographical region, including Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Though focused on the Dutch colonies, the museum also has displays on other countries, such as Japan. Key attractions include a collection of more than 150,000 photographs dating from 1855 to 1940; a theatrical exhibition featuring masks, puppets, and musical instruments from around the world; and Tropenmuseum Junior, a series of interactive exhibits and events—including dance, art, and cooking—aimed at children.
Tropenmuseum is a stop on hop-on hop-off bus sightseeing tours of Amsterdam, and several city sightseeing passes include free or discounted entrance. Some guided walking tours, such as those focused on the city’s multicultural population, visit the museum but do not go inside.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tropenmuseum is a must-visit for those with an interest in anthropology and world history.
- The historic building itself is also a draw for architecture enthusiasts.
- The museum is accessible to wheelchair users and offers programs in Dutch or international sign language. Assistance and guide dogs are welcome.
- There is an entrance fee, but children up to three years get free admission.
How to Get There
From Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, you can take the No. 14 tram directly to the Eerste van Swindenstraat stop, a short walk from the museum. The journey takes about 20 minutes. From Leidseplein, take tram No. 7 to Alexanderplein. You can also reach the museum via the Canal Bus or Artis Expressboat.
When to Get There
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm. During the summer months, and other select dates, it is also open (same hours) on Mondays. The museum is closed Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and the king’s birthday (April 27). Weekends tend to be busiest.
The Tropenmuseum is part of the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (Dutch Museum of World Cultures), a collection of three ethnographic museums in the Netherlands, and is housed in a specially constructed building in East Amsterdam. The sprawling mansion, which took 11 years to build, was completed in 1926 to designs by Dutch architect J. J. van Nieukerken. The elaborate facade features sculptures, friezes, and carvings symbolic of Dutch history and world cultures.