Amsterdam’s historical museum recently joined the 21st century with a major rebranding and updates to its permanent displays; it’s now much more user-friendly, with many multimedia and digital activities. Arranged around a cobbled courtyard, where visitors can find the stylish Mokum Café, the museum is housed in a former convent and a 17th-century orphanage, while narrating the history of Amsterdam from its humble beginnings as a fishing village through its time as a world trading power and up to present day.
The exhibitions kick off with the brilliant Amsterdam DNA, a multimedia romp through the main stages of the city’s history with the aid of interactive displays, ancient maps, Old Dutch Master paintings, and seven themed short movies. There are tons of other displays tucked away in the museum, from 1960s beatnik fashions to examinations of the city’s once-lax drug policies; other highlights include a model of the Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace), and the Little Orphanage, where kids can experience life in a 17th-century Dutch orphanage. The Schuttersgalerij (Civic Guards Gallery) alongside the museum is free to all; along with massive wooden sculptures of David and Goliath, displays include oil paintings of the 17th-century civic guards who protected the city as well as contemporary photographic portraits of Dutch public figures and a highly colorful hand-embroidered patchwork carpet by Dutch installation artist Barbara Broekman, which represents all nationalities presently residing in multi-cultural Amsterdam.