The Stedelijk Museum shoulders its way above the streets of the culture-rich Museumkwartier in southwest Amsterdam. The locals just call it "the Stedelijk", and it's famed for its strange combo of architectural styles and a rich array of modern art. In fact, it's among the richest modern art museums in the Low Countries, boasting paintings by van Gogh, Matisse, Andy Warhol – the list goes on.

    Together with the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the thought-provoking Moco Museum, the Stedelijk is one of the premier cultural draws of the Amsterdam Museumkwartier.

    Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam - one of the highlights of 10 Best Museums and Galleries in Amsterdam (Read all about Amsterdam here)

    photo by Calips (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    A brief history of the Stedelijk Museum

    The Stedelijk Museum is actually well over a century old. Originally opened in 1895, it started out as a place to house a private collection of Far Eastern art and military uniforms. That changed in the early 1900s, when the institution veered off to focus solely on modern and contemporary artworks.

    By 1954, there was a dedicated wing for experimental installations and even film-based artists. The main collections were also further bolstered by a huge bequest from the VVHK, a society set up with the express aim of creating a national Dutch collection of modern art. That was completed in 1962 and saw the addition of famous works by the likes of Cézanne and van Gogh.

    Major reconstructions started after the turn of the millennium, partly due to fire regulation requirements, partly because of the need for extra space. They weren't fully completed until 2012. However, the reopening brought with it a whole new wing and refurbished galleries for the main artworks in the collection.

    What are the highlights of the Stedelijk Museum?

    The architecture of the Stedelijk Museum’s exterior is one of the most remarkable features. It fuses classical redbrick building work dating from the 19th century with uber-modern design. The most modern wing of all has now become known as The Bathtub for its plain white sides that rise without any windows or interruptions to a flattened top.

    However, the true highlights reside inside. The Stedelijk Museum hosts a whopping 90,000 individual pieces of art. Together, they showcase all of the seminal modern art movements of the last 2 centuries, ranging from the Neo-Impressionism of the 1880s to Pop Art from the 1950s and '60s.

    Perhaps you could start with the pre-war painters of Picasso and Cézanne. Then, delve into the rooms that showcase the trademark De Stijl movement that was born and flourished in the Netherlands throughout the 1920s. Finally, go through the 1950s and 1960s, seeing works by Lichtenstein and Warhol.

    There are some key works you won't want to miss as you move among the various wings. Take Barnett Newman's Cathedra, which was famously carved up by a visitor with a knife back in 1997. Then there are the stark lines of Composition No. III by Mondrian, one of the leading figures in 20th-century Dutch modernism.

    photo by Hpschaefer (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Good to know about the Stedelijk Museum

    The Stedelijk Museum is conveniently in the heart of Amsterdam's Museum Quarter. It's not difficult to find – the architecture is pretty striking, with the Van Baerlestraat tram and bus stops fronting it. The colossal Rijksmuseum is just a 5-minute walk down the road, too.

    Entry isn't free and it's always a good idea to book tickets in advance for the Stedelijk Museum, especially if you're hitting Amsterdam in the popular summer months, or when there's a travelling exhibition on.

    The Stedelijk Museum is fully accessible. It's equipped with wheelchair lifts and bathrooms for wheelchair users. There's also parking reserved for persons with disabilities out front, on Paulus Potterstraat.

    photo by Tobias Niepel (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

    Location: Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +31 (0)205 732 911

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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