Scenic Spots

Weird and wonderful: Amsterdam's exhibitions

Everyone's heard of the big ones, the Rijksmuseum of Art and History, the Rembrandthuis and Van Gogh Museums. They are basically a must for any visitor to Amsterdam. But the Dutch capital also offers an array of more off-beat, specialized exhibitions. How about paying a visit to the Tulip, Tropical or Houseboat Museum?

1.Houseboat Museum

Introduction:Pure romance? Or just ordinary, everyday life? However you see it, the 2000 odd houseboats still used as homes in Amsterdam are certainly a tourist attraction. The best way to find out exactly how life in a floating home works is to tour the Hendrika Maria. Built as a freighter in 1914, she later served as a houseboat for two decades. In fact, the living room still contains its 1950s furnishings and looks as if it's just waiting for the owners to return.

Information:Houseboat Museum: Prinsengracht 296 K, Tel.: +31-20/427 07 50,www.houseboatmuseum.nlOpening times: all year round except January, Fri-Sun 11am-5pm, March through October also Tue-Thu. Admission: €3.50, reduced €2.75

2. Architectural Resource Center B.V., Amsterdam (ARCAM)

Introduction:Amsterdam's future is on everyone's lips here. ARCAM provides a forum for new ideas and projects and debates about the city's future development, which and often fascinating. Dutch architects are among the world's most sought-after and most innovative in their field. ARCAM hosts a permanent exhibition on the history of architecture in Amsterdam since 800, as well as changing exhibitions on specialized subjects.

Information:Architectural Resource Center B.V., ARCAM: Prins Hendrikkade 600, Tel.: +31-20/620 48 78, www.arcam.nlOpening times: Tue-Sat 1-5pm. Admission: free.

3.FOAM Photography Museum Amsterdam

Introduction:FOAM – these four letters have long been internationally recognized as a hallmark for excellent photography. The museum has earned an excellent reputation for its changing exhibitions of famous star photographers and promising newcomers, and houses a library as well as a very nice café with large reading desks, and a commercial gallery. If you simply can't wait to visit FOAM now, why not try the next best thing and order a copy of the English-language FOAM magazine the museum publishes every quarter.

Information:FOAM: Keizersgracht 609, Tel.: +31-20/551 65 00, Opening times: daily 10am-6pm, Thu/Fri 9pm, closed on some public holidays. Admission: €8, reduced €5.50. FOAM

4. NEMO:

Introduction:More an experience than a museum! At the NEMO, visitors are not just allowed but actively encouraged to touch many of the exhibits. The NEMO is a science center where science becomes an adventure, where complicated aspects of biology, chemistry and physics are explained in a way that's both easy to understand and fascinating. How does the brain work? What is DNA? And what holds the world together? The answers to these and other questions are supplied by an array of interactive experiments and games. The NEMO is impressive on the outside, too – thanks to star architect Renzo Piano, who designed the spectacular ship-shaped building. For great views of Amsterdam's old town all year round and a city beach in the summer, don't miss the NEMO's rooftop piazza.

Information:Science center NEMO: Oosterdok 2, Tel.: +31-20/531 32 33, www.e-nemo.nlOpening times: all year round, Tue-Sun 10am-5pm; June through August, during school vacations in the Netherlands and on certain public holidays, also Mon. Admission: €12.50, reduced from €6.50.

5. Tropical Museum

Introduction:Hard to credit today, but nevertheless an historical fact: For centuries the little Netherlands was master of a huge world empire with colonies in the Americas, Africa and Asia. In 1871, a colonial museum opened to exhibit exotic raw materials and products from the country's overseas territories. That museum's successor, the Tropical Museum, today recalls more than just the Netherlands' colonial history. In fact, it is now chiefly devoted to non-Western cultures – and aims to be a place of cultural exchange.

Information:Tropical Museum: Linnaeusstraat 2, Tel.: +31-20/568 82 00,www.tropenmuseum.nlOpening times: daily 10am-5pm, on some public holidays only 10am-3pm or closed. Admission: €9, reduced €5.

6. Tulip Museum

Introduction:Once the favorite flower of Oriental rulers, later the cause of the world's first stock market crash, the tulip is the national flower of the Netherlands today. The Amsterdam Tulip Museum is dedicated to the fascinating cultural history of this popular flower. The adjoining museum shop stocks antiques and literature on the subject, not to mention tulips and all kinds of other flower bulbs, as well.

Information:Amsterdam Tulip Museum: Prinsengracht 112, Tel.: +31-20/421 00 95,www.amsterdamtulipmuseum.comOpening times: daily 10am-6pm. Admission: €4, reduced €2.