Museumplein (Museum-square in English) is the name given to the area between Rijksmuseum and the Concertgebouw. The area got the name because of the museums located around the square and therefore also referred to as Museum Quarter or Museum District. The square has an extraordinary history and is unique to Amsterdam, just as it would be in any European city with its size. Situated close to the busy city centre, the Museumplein is where all tourists in Amsterdam converge.
The Museumplein is located in Amsterdam South, south of the Rijksmuseum. The square plays an important recreational function within the city. Due to the presence of large and smaller grass areas, a pond and other recreational options, the square has almost a park-like feel and appearance. All kinds of events are organized on the square, including the Uitmarkt. The Museumplein is also often the place where large demonstrations are held. In addition to the aforementioned Rijksmuseum, there is also the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Concertgebouw on the Museumplein.
Almost all tourists in Amsterdam eventually end up on the Museumplein. Apart from the fact that three of the city’s most popular museums in Amsterdam are located there, the square also has some canal cruise companies in the vicinity. There are trendy shops for shopaholics, cosy restaurants serving tasty dishes from all over the world and in the summer, lots of sporting activities are also organised on the square. The popular Leidseplein is also just a mere 5-minute walk from the Museumplein.
History of the Amsterdam Museumplein
Terrain for art and culture
The history of the Museumplein can be described as quite exciting. The square is located where the World Exhibition of 1883 was once held. In 1885 the square was given the name Museumplein because the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam came to be located there. In 1903 the name Museumplein became official. Until 1940 the Amsterdam Ice Skating Club also came to be located on the square.
The site where the Museumplein is located now used to be a farm until well into the nineteenth century. However, the Amsterdam board designated this region as an area for art and culture. The site was used in the winter as the ice rink of the city of Amsterdam. A number of international championships were organized on the 400-meter track at the end of the 19th century. Originally, some villas were built on the site with the Rijksmuseum as a gateway. The extra buildings on this side of the Rijksmuseum, such as the director’s office and the library, were supposed to connect architecturally to the villas. Through a plea by the architect of the Rijksmuseum, Pierre Cuijpers, during the council meeting of December 2, 1891, the municipality finally decided in 1902 to leave a large part open and to build only a small part of the block of villas.
During WWII there were bunkers and barbed wires on the Museumplein. They were demolished from 1946 to 1953. Nowadays the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Van Gogh Museum and the Concertgebouw are also located on the Museumplein. The Leidseplein isn’t very far away.
The Museumplein Today
The Museumplein got a new look at the end of the nineties. The wide street across the square disappeared and the Van Gogh Museum was given a new wing. A parking garage and a supermarket were built under the square. On the north side of the Museumplein are spacious houses from around 1900.
Since 1999 there has been a pond near the Rijksmuseum with terraces on both sides and a museum shop. Tourists use the square to rest from their cultural outings and as a meeting place for the bus that is parked somewhere below the square. Since the redesign of the square in 1999, the square no longer has the traffic function of before, there are only a few cycle paths running through it.
What’s there to see around the Museumplein?
Over the decades, Amsterdammers and tourists have used the square every day to recreate and rest. Before the war, the site was popularly known as the IJsclub site but today, it is the Museumplein and one of Amsterdam’s most popular squares. Even now, the grassy areas invite both residents and visitors to play football in the summer, Frisbee and picnic. Below are some of the most interesting places to visit while in the vicinity.
The Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam
The Royal Concertgebouw came after a competition organized in 1881, in which the design by A.I. van Gendt (1835-1901) was chosen. The spacious concert hall in Amsterdam became a neo-Renaissance building with a richly decorated tympanum and a column facade. Two concert halls are hidden behind the column facade. The architect succeeded in giving the Great Hall perfect acoustics which the Concertgebouw is very proud of. The Royal Orchestra also performs regularly in the Great Hall.
Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam This austere museum was built in 1973 for the work of the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. In addition to paintings and drawings that portray the career of Vincent van Gogh, the museum holds hundreds of letters from the painter to his brother Theo, and his collection of Japanese prints. The Vincent Van Gogh Museum also displays art from other 19th-century Dutch painters. In the extension of the Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, opened in 1999, temporary exhibitions are being organized.
The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam was built in 1895 to house the collection of Sophia de Bruyn. Since 1938, the museum has been the national museum for modern art and modern art in all its facets is showcased there. The museum’s collection contains artworks by painters such as Henri Matisse and Wassily Kandinsky, with a heavy emphasis on paintings, drawings, images, videos and photos from after 1945.
House of Bols Amsterdam
House of Bols Amsterdam is the perfect attraction for tourists, especially those visiting for the first time. The House of Bols Amsterdam’s best-known gin and liqueur brand has set up an Experience on the Museumplein that you will find very difficult to forget. The best thing is to combine a visit to House of Bols with a group of friends/acquaintances/colleagues with a culinary gin tasting or cocktail workshop. Don’t miss out on this wonderful experience on the Museumplein.
For many people in Amsterdam, the Vondelpark is the most popular city park in all of the Netherlands. The 1.5-kilometre long and 48-hectare national monument form an oasis of tranquillity in the hectic city centre. Until the mid-20th century, the park remained the property of private individuals but because the maintenance costs could no longer be paid the private individuals, it was donated to the city of Amsterdam. The park owes its name to the placement of a statue of writer/poet Joost van den Vondel (1582-1674). Vondelpark is fun because of the number of activities that takes place every summer in the park. It is also the ideal location for picnics and friends who want to hang out on the green grass during sunny days.
Moco Museum Amsterdam
The Amsterdam Moco Museum stands for Modern Contemporary Museum Amsterdam. This is a private museum for modern and contemporary art in the Amsterdam city centre. In the Moco Museum, visitors can see a wide range of modern, inspiring and contemporary art from artists such as Warhol, Banksy, Icy & Sot and Roy Lichtenstein. The Moco museum is aimed at showcasing the works of radical leaders and influencers of modern art movements, such as street and pop art. The Museum welcomes visitors of all ages. The artworks on display are inspired by graffiti such as that of Icy & Sot and Banksy or Roy Lichtenstein. It’s a museum that attracts a lot of young people.
Diamond Museum Amsterdam
In the Amsterdam Diamond Museum, visitors make a journey that began 3 billion years ago and ends at the ring on your finger. View world-famous and rare diamonds from all over the world. The city of Amsterdam and diamond are inextricably linked and it’s not possible to visit the city without finding out all there is o know about the history of the diamond trade in the city. The history of the diamond trade in Amsterdam began in 1586 and continues to this day. Nevertheless, the eventful history of the diamond is not equally familiar to everyone. The Diamond Museum Amsterdam reveals the stories behind the precious stones with films, jewellery, historical documents and of course diamonds. Get to know everything about the history of the Amsterdam diamond trade, see artisans at work, and stand in the room of mirrors – it’s like being in the middle of a huge diamond here!
Sightseeing on the Canals
Discovering Amsterdam from the canals still remains the best and most appropriate way to see all the sights and beauty of the city. Hop on one of the canal boats ay you let the beauty of centuries-old canal houses pass you by and at the same time you avoid the hectic pace of today’s Amsterdam, especially in the summer. Most cruises depart from the Leidseplein and just across the street from the entrance of the Vondelpark.
The Heineken Experience Amsterdam
The Heineken Experience is located in the first Heineken brewery in the heart of Amsterdam. It isn’t very far from the Museumplein. The brewery was closed in 1988 because the production capacity could no longer meet the high demand. Since 1991, the brewery has welcomed visitors from all over the world. The Tour of the facility is an independent interactive journey through the world of Heineken. Visitors discover the history of the HEINEKEN company, the four natural ingredients of their beer, the brewing process, a tasting, the Heineken brand and the partnerships with the UEFA Champions League and Rugby World Cup. At the end of the tour, you can, of course, enjoy two glasses of Heineken or learn how to tap a perfect glass of Heineken. Visitors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and according to Dutch law and Heineken policy, no alcoholic beverages are served to visitors under the age of 18.
How to get to the Museumplein by public transport
The Museumplein is located in the centre of the city. Public transport is the best way to get to the Square. Visitors can also walk to the square because of its central location.
1079 RA Amsterdam
Trams 2, and 12: Exit at the stop “Rijksmuseum”. and from there it’s a two-minute walk into the park.
For real-time travel information from wherever you are to the Vondelpark, please check out this link;
Museumplein on the City Map
Parking Around The Museumplein
On the Museumplein, in the Amsterdam Center district are three of the city’s largest museums, the Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. The Concertgebouw also overlooks the Museumplein and the Vondelpark is within walking distance. Street parking is almost impossible around the museum square. A parking garage is a better option. However, public transport still remains the best way to visit the Museumplein because parking can be very expensive in Amsterdam.
For a visit to the Museumplein, you can use the following parking lots:
Museumplein Amsterdam Parking – Parking capacity on the street can be very scarce in this area. There is often still a place to be found around Laisessestraat and Koninginneweg. Compared to some parking garages around the museum square, this can be a cheaper option.
Vondelpark Parking – Vondelpark is adjacent to the ‘Zuid district’ on the South side of Amsterdam and the ‘West district’ on the North side of the city.
Paid parking is available on the South side of the Vondelpark on the following days:
Monday – Saturday – 09.00-24.00. The tariff on the Southside is € 4.00 per hour.
There’s paid parking in the Westside on the following days:
Monday – Saturday – 09.00-24.00. The tariff on the Westside is € 3.00 per hour.
Q-Park Museumplein – This parking lot is located under the museum square at the Albert Heijn. The parking lot is spacious with no less than 600 spots. Parking fees can be quite high and can go for more than € 6.00 per hour.
Q-Park Byzantium – This parking lot is right around the corner from the Vondelpark (around the corner of the PC Hooftstraat). Parking fees can be quite high and can go for more than € 6.00 per hour.
Parking Garage Bee Overtoom – Very cheap parking garage near the Overtoom and Vondelpark. You can easily walk to the Museumplein or Leidseplein from here. You can only drive in and out and pay with your mobile phone via the free downloadable app from Parkmobile.
Museumplein on the City Map
Interesting Facts About the Museumplein Amsterdam
With over 10 million annual visitors, the Museumplein is the biggest and most visited part of Amsterdam, and also in the Netherlands. The huge expanse of land with its lovely atmosphere has made the most popular square in the Netherlands and an ideal place for both Amsterdam residents and visitors to go for leisure time activities like picnics and summertime football. Below are some of the interesting facts about the Museumplein.
- The site where the Museumplein is now located used to be home to a few farms until the beginning of the nineteenth century when the municipality decided to make it a site for culture, art and leisure time activities.
- Just a few meters from the Museumplein is the Vondelpark is named after Amsterdam’s best-known poet, Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679). A statue of him also stands in the park.
- In 1881, a competition for the best design of a communal building was held and A.I van Gendt’s design was chosen. That design came to be the Amsterdam Concertgebouw that we all know and love today.
- The Museumplein was reconstructed after a design by the Swedish/Danish landscape architect Sven-Ingvar Andersson in 1999. It now includes underground parking spaces and an underground supermarket. In the winter, the pond can be transformed into a series of artificial ice skating rinks.
- There used to be bunkers and barbed wires on the Museumplein during WWII. They were only demolished in 1946, and completely in 1953.
- On November 21, 1981, one of the largest demonstrations in Dutch history took place on the Museumplein: 420,000 people demonstrated against the placement of new nuclear weapons in Europe.