The Tropenmuseum (Tropical Institute) of Amsterdam is one of those museums where you walk in and feel the grandeur of what once was… I have that same feeling in similar beautiful buildings, like the Natural History Museum in London, or the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Brussels…
It’s about anthropology, discovery, history, about dangerous expeditions and great adventures… Dr. Livingstone, I presume???
The original name of the Tropical Institute was Colonial Museum and it was first opened in Haarlem in 1871 (the current building in Amsterdam was inaugurated in 1926). The initial aim of the museum was to exhibit products and crafts from the Dutch overseas territories. There are however not many Dutch colonies left and the building is huge, so nowadays the exhibitions display art, objects, photographs, music and film from non-western cultures in general, giving an insight into the daily lives of the people of the tropics and subtropics.
It’s really a fantastic museum to visit, and also great for children. We went last weekend (it was raining), and our 3-year-old LOVED it!
There were so many interesting things for her to see; think life size mock-ups of Arabic shops, a real Bedouin tent, sculptures made of aluminum foil (Thailand), fabrics to feel, music to listen to, loads and loads of buttons to press activating different lights or sounds…
It’s all truly interesting and educational. I can imagine it would also be great to bring older children here to give them insight in what they have learned at school! Or, if you’re about to travel to exotic places, it would be good to go here beforehand and study the culture a bit to prepare yourself and your children for what to expect!
Besides the general kids’ activities the museum has to offer (puzzle-routes in Dutch and creative workshops on weekends), the museum has fantastic special kids’ programmes (best to check the site to see what is going on).
I really like the restaurant too; there is a lovely terrace overlooking the East-park, and the menu is international so you can literally have a taste of other cultures (the Suriname roti is really good)! High chairs are available.
1092 CK Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 568 8200
Open daily from 10 am – 5 pm (On 5, 24 and 31 December from 10 am – 3 pm)
Closed on 1 January / 30 April / 5 May / 25 December