One of the famous Amsterdam museums located in Museumplein is Stedelijk — the Municipal Museum of Amsterdam. I was planning a visit as soon as the museum opened, since it was closed due to renovation for more than eight years, but I only managed to do it now, a few months after the big opening in September 2012. The museum was not simply renovated — but a new, modern wing has been added to the old building, raising many controversies because of its unusual shape: it looks just like a huge bathtub. Part of the general public was happy with this new strange addition to the area, while another (large) part of the public consider the bathtub to be misplaced, ruining the charm of the old, historical buildings. Looking at it, one cannot escape noticing the strong contrast between the modern building design and the old neighbourhood surrounding it.
Having seen the building many times from the outside, and having read enough articles about the exterior of this new wing, I became very curious to see what it looked like on the inside and what the museum had to offer its visitors. The entrance is located between the bathtub’s “legs” and leads one to the main hallway, which is a wide, airy space; this is where the museum shop and restaurant are located. I must confess that while standing in the queue to get my ticket, I felt as if I was at the airport, waiting for check-in; quite a strange feeling for a museum, but I enjoyed the well lit, minimally-designed space which gave the sensation of something very modern.
And modern is what it should feel like, since it’s a museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design. The collection is one of the richest modern art collections in the world, counting almost 90,000 objects (Wikipedia) which consist of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photography, films, graphic and industrial design, etc. Various famous names are shown here, from Vincent van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Kandinsky to Mike Kelley, Marlene Dumas and Dutch modern photography. A very interesting part to see is also an exhibit on the history of Dutch design (don’t be shy to look inside all the drawers and discover the small beautiful objects inside). There are also permanent and temporary exhibitions and a big emphasis is put nowadays on holding artistic events: live performances, film screenings, concerts, book launches. It is definitely worth at least one visit; I for one will come back for sure, to see, from time to time, what’s new in the area of modern art.
Regarding the practical aspects of the visit: queues are not very long and the large spaces inside will not make you feel crowded and claustrophobic like in other Amsterdamian museums; there are some nicely shaped windows which offer an interesting view over the Museumplein and, at the end of your visit, you can rest for a while at the local restaurant. For official opening hours and the admission price, as well as many other useful pieces of information, please visit the museum website; for buying tickets in advance, so you can skip the line, visit this website.