Museum Van Loon – One of The Top Hidden Gems in Amsterdam


Amsterdam is justifiably famous for its picturesque canals and cultural attractions such as the Rijksmuseum. Yet if you look further, there are some fantastic lesser-known sights that you really shouldn’t miss. Museum Van Loon is one of our favourite Amsterdam hidden gems, so let’s go on a virtual tour that will hopefully entice you to visit! With an enviable location on Keizersgracht, this canalside private residence was designed by architect Adriaen Dortsman in 1672. He is known for his work on the Walenweeshuis, formerly an orphanage and now the French consulate, as well as the distinctive round Lutheran Church. The house is topped by four sculptures representing Ceres, Mars, Minerva and Vulcan. They symbolize agriculture, war, justice and fire, which the original owner considered to be sources of his wealth.
Museum Van Loon, a charming Amsterdam canal house

History of Museum Van Loon

During our recent stay at another canalside townhouse, Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam, we were fortunate to visit Museum Van Loon. It was one of a pair of adjacent townhouses commissioned by Jeremias van Raey, a Flanders merchant who lived in one of the houses. He rented what is now Museum Van Loon to the 17th century painter Ferdinand Bol, who was one of Rembrandt’s pupils. There’s an exhibition dedicated to the artist in the coach house of the museum until 8 January 2018. He was one of the best known painters of the Dutch Golden Age and 25 paintings from private collections and international museums are on display. They’re not just his own works, as he and his second wife Anna were collectors of paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Ruisdael. It’s nice to think that the works will once again be on show in the place where they were originally displayed! In the main house, there is a fantastic collection of art, like this painting of two little girls.

A stunning painting of two girls at Museum Van Loon in Amsterdam, Holland

Interior of Museum Van Loon

The interiors and staircase were renovated by the Van Hagen family who lived here at the end of the 18 century. Today, Museum Van Loon is a great insight into what an Amsterdam private house would have looked like. The basement kitchen, where staff would have prepared meals for the family living here, has a gleaming set of copper pans and cooking equipment.

The kitchen at the Museum Van Loon, Amsterdam, Holland
If you’re wondering how the museum got its unusual name, it’s in honour of the last residents, the Van Loon family. They came fro the town of Loon op Zand, and Willem van Loon was one of the founders of the Dutch East India Company. This painting of him as a child is by the artist Dirck Dircksz. van Santvoort and dates from 1636. It has an unusual octagonal frame that really draws your eye in.

Museum Van Loon paintings in AmsterdamIn 1884, the honorable Hendrik van Loon bought the house for his son Willem Hendrik as a wedding gift. Willem Hendrik was an accomplished historian, children’s book author and illustrator. He lived here with his 2 children and wife Thora, who was lady in waiting to Queen Wilhelmina. Family photographs are dotted around the house, and that’s what makes this dwelling so charming. Their descendants still own the house today and have offices here.

Museu Van Loon, a canal house museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands
The bedrooms boast stucco work and colourful silk wall hangings. When you visit, keep an eye out for the bedroom doors – the real doors have been painted to blend in with the wall colourings, and fake doors have been created instead to ensure symmetry of design.

One of the best hidden gems in Amsterdam - Van Loon Museum
This vibrant bedroom has a floral theme and a lovely chandelier. There’s also some ornate furniture on display.

A bedroom at the Van Loon Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Van Loon Garden and Coach House

Museum Van Loon is unique in being the only museum in the Netherlands where the original canal house, coach house and garden can be viewed as a whole. The garden has a classical design and is a lovely haven of peace, with benches to relax on. At the end of the garden, you’ll see the coach house, also created by Adriaan Dortsman. When the house was first built, the coaches would go in through Kerkstraat and be stored there. When the Van Loon family acquired the house, they built up a great collection of carriages and harnesses. These can be viewed when the coach house is not hosting an exhibition, like the current one: Ferdinand Bol: the house, the collection, the artist.

The Museum Van Loon and private Amsterdam garden

Visiting Museum Van Loon

Museum Van Loon is one of the many great attractions that you can visit for free with the I amsterdam City Card. Billing itself as “the card that offers more than you can visit (but you can try)”, it gives you free entrance to cultural attractions such as museums, unlimited public transport and a free canal cruise. It also offers  a range of discounts on bicycle and boat rental as well as at restaurants and bars. The City Cards vary in length from 24 hours to 96 hours, can be ordered online and delivered to your home or collected at the airport or train station.

Amsterdam City Card - great for getting around the city and visiting the museums
Where to Stay near Museum Van Loon

The Pulitzer Amsterdam is one of our favourite places to stay in Amsterdam. This collection of historic townhouses boasts a huge inner courtyard, stylish decor, a superb restaurant and cocktail bar.

The Art Collector's Suite at Pulitzer Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours

Museum Van Loon is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. It is closed on 27 April (Kings Day), 25 December and 1 January and will close at 3 pm on 24 December.

Practical Information

Admission is free with the I Amsterdam City Card or  € 9 for adults,  € 7 for students or groups of 10 persons and more, € 5 for children aged 6 to 18 and free for children under 6. There will be a  € 1 surcharge on all adult tickets during the exhibition Ferdinand Bol: the house, the collection, the artist.

Guided Tours

A 50 minute guided tour of the house, garden and coach house is available for € 79 plus € 7 entry per person. It’s also possible to book guided tours after opening hours for an additional fee, as well as light refreshments. There are also special tours in Dutch for partially sighted and blind visitors where they can touch certain objects, with a cost per person of € 5 plus the museum entrance fee. All tours must be booked in advance.

Private Hire

The dining room and coach house make a very special venue for meetings, dinners and weddings. They’re a licensed wedding location that can host up to 80 people.

Refreshments

There’s a small but charming cafe in the basement which serves tea, coffee and some tasty looking cakes.

Address

Museum Van Loon, Keizersgracht 672, 1017 ET Amsterdam

We hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the Van Loon Museum, one of the best Amsterdam hidden gems in our opinion! Is this somewhere you’d have liked to live?

Museum Van Loon - One of the Best Hidden Gems in Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Kavita

    You know how usually the hidden gems are not very hidden and everyone knows about them? Love that yours is actually a genuine one, not just because I haven’t heard of it (I haven’t, but I’m hardly an expert on Amsterdam after a handful of visits) but because I’ve seen so many posts about the city’s museums and this one’s never been included. 😀 Love the architecture and I know I’d enjoy the insight into the life of such a family in the late 18th century. That kitchen fascinates me in particular.

    • Suze

      It was my husband who found out about this one, it really is quite under the radar as you say! I’m glad that you enjoyed reading about it and hope you get the chance to visit

  • Van Loon Museum looks so intriguing!! What a hidden gem.

    • Suze

      It’s a great place to visit! I want to go back when it’s sunny

  • What a fascinating place. I love that look into the life of the Van Hagen family – and it’s definitely somewhere I will put on the list to visit when I am next in Amsterdam

    • Suze

      It was fascinating to get a glimpse into the life of a Dutch family in bygone days!

  • Oh, this is really beautiful, Suze! I hope to finally make it to Amsterdam one of these days, so I’ll definitely make it a point to visit this museum. I’ve seen some similar ones in Sweden and absolutely love them.

    • Suze

      I promise that you’ll love Amsterdam – a great combination of friendly people, lovely food and lots of sights!

  • I’m one big fan of museums and beautiful views. Lucky you to be there.

    • Suze

      It was such a pleasure to visit, not crowded and very insightful!

  • I love how historic houses in Amsterdam are still so filled with family stories and mementos!

    • Suze

      I agree, it’s really nice that they have so many family souvenirs there

  • Hannah

    I have been to Amsterdam so many times and have never visited the Van Loon Museum – but it looks like a wonderful example of a family home, and with the advantage of having the coach house attached also, it really does seem like a treasure. I enjoyed the detail about the doors being painted to blend into the walls, with fake doors for symmetry – so whimsical!

    • Suze

      The fake doors were so well concealed, we had to look hard to spot them!

  • Antonette Spaan

    It’s a hidden gem indeed because as a Dutchie I had never really heard of this museum before, even though I go to Amsterdam quite regularly. The IAmsterdam city card is indeed a great option for anyone visiting the city!

    • Suze

      Ooh I’m glad to have found a real hidden gem! The City Card is a great way to visit so many places, we used it a lot

  • Indrani

    Wow Luxurious! What an impressive lifestyle they had! The gardens too seem well maintained.
    Nice that it can be visited for free with the card.

    • Suze

      They’ve really looked after the gardens, the family seem to visit quite regularly from what I understand

  • The colourful silk wall hangings in the bedroom look to be worth visiting for alone, so special! Thanks for the introduction to this place Suze, I’d not heard of it before 🙂

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

    • Suze

      The rooms are so beautifully decorated, and it really has the feeling of a family home still

  • Everything Candid

    For me Amsterdam is all about boat rides in those canals and then cycling around the city. I have read so much about the city that I feel I have been there many times. My entire route is fixed for this amazing city. And after your article, I think I must add Museums also and specially Van Loon. Its location is amazing. Good to know about Ceres, Mars, Minerva and Vulcan and what they represent. Being an India, Van loon’s Dutch East India Company connection gives me more reason to visit this place. Entire place is elegantly decorated. Impressive history.

    Cheers,
    Himanshu

  • Efthimis Kragaris

    Unfortunately while in Amsterdam I didn’t visit the Van Loon museum and I regret it now! It seems like a movie set for a historical film. The ticket price is really cheap considering that the original canal house, coach house and garden can be viewed altogether as a whole!

  • Jennifer Dombrowski

    Museums aren’t really my cup of tea, but I definitely hadn’t heard of the Van Loon Museum before. And your hotel, Pulitzer Amsterdam, looks really funky and chic. It definitely looks like a fun place to stay and explore the city from!

  • Elisa Subirats

    Museum Van Loon looks quite unique. I am not that interested in this painting style but I would not mind to visit the museum to check how people in Amsterdam lived in the XVIII. Probably I would also take nice pictures of the gardens-

  • megan_claire

    I’ve been to Amsterdam a couple of times but not yet visited Museum Van Loon – thankyou for this virtual tour! I love that they not only exhibit the paintings you would expect from an art collection, but also kept the Van Hagen family’s house preserved – it’s so interesting to have an authentic insight into how people lived throughout recent centuries. Such a rich history and many stories with the families who have owned the house over time. I love the rich décor they have inside.

    Definitely appears to be a hidden gem – and a museum with a difference. thanks for the tip!

  • Lucy

    You are really making me want to visit and I love places that are hidden gems. This looks beautiful Lucy x (FoodieForce)

  • Museum Van Loon looks like a great hidden gem, would love to visit one day!

    Miriam x