One for the most positive surprises of my early July 2020 trip to Amsterdam and Eindhoven was the Channel Museum / Canal Museum Amsterdam. You may also refer to the same place as Gracht Museum Amsterdam (grachten are the characteristic Dutch channels/canals), Grachtenmuseum or – in Dutch – as (Het) Grachtenhuis. It combines the history of Amsterdam with the story of the channels and city planning aspects.
Gracht Museum Amsterdam – Location & Admission
The museum is located at the Herengracht, in the Southwestern part of the very city center. If you want to reach the museum by local transport, you likely go for Spui (tram) or Rokin (metro). You may, however, easily reach it with a short walk from most city center locations.
At the time of my visit, the museum was opening noon to 16:00 hrs Tuesday to Friday and until 17:00 hrs on weekends. The adult admission is 15 Euro. I did not have to pay for the entry as I own the Dutch Museumkaart. The Gracht Museum also accepts other passes like the Amsterdam City Card.
Gracht Museum Amsterdam – The Audiovisual Tour
The audiovisual tour roughly takes you 45 minutes. It is split into five stages, each are roughly eight minutes per stage, with a roughly one minute transfer to the next room. The visual effects are common and an audio guide gives you the corresponding sound. The audio guide needs to be activated in each room. Even though the picture below suggests a variety of languages, you could only have the tour in Dutch or in English during my visit.
At the first stage, life in Amsterdam during until the early 17th century is illustrated. You also learn how the town grew after being comparably minor and unimportant before. With more and more immigration, there was the demand to expand the city limits. This is the topic in the second room, where some imaginary characters are sitting around the table and discuss multiple options what are the best strategy to efficiently allow for more inhabitants. At the end of that stage, you also get a glimpse at the beautiful garden of the premises. The third section is about the grachts / channels. It explains how Amsterdam is built on piles and how the whole architecture in there works, especially in order to prevent that the channel water becomes a polluted and stinky waterway system.
My favorite room was the fourth room, though. You can walk around a model of the house in which the Channel Museum is nowadays hosted in. You can look through all the windows. Instead of just having one activation touch point at the entrance of the room, you may alter your tour by using touch points at practically all windows of the building, so that your audio guide is playing you some music or explanations. Apart from puppets and models, some holographic projections are used to illustrate life in the building, also during different ages. The wall around shows other Herengracht buildings. Last, but not least, you are sitting in front of a model of the channel expansions and the screen shows you, where different people settled and how their life was influenced by channel life.
Gracht Museum Amsterdam – Copied Paintings
I would see it more like a bonus of the whole exhibition, that in the beautiful lower floor, you find a lot of paintings. All of them are copies, which have been produced during a Dutch TV show. Still (also due to the audio guide), you lean a lot about the motives, but also about the techniques used and how difficult it has been to properly copy the masterpieces.
Gracht Museum Amsterdam – Services
Right next to the entrance, Het Grachtenhuis also features a small souvenir store, which is having some nice articles.
Gracht Museum Amsterdam – My View
Apart from that it is simply a lovely building, the Amsterdam Gracht Museum / Channel Museum is simply a great visit. The audiovisual show is done with a lot of love and is simply entertaining and educative. The puppet house is definitely the highlight of your visit, but the other stages are great as well. I definitely recommend to visit this place once your are in the Dutch capital.
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