In the heart of Amsterdam, we stumbled upon a little known museum that we thought was one of the most interesting we’ve ever visited.
Het Grachtenhuis Museum, which opened its doors to the public in 2011 is ‘the gateway to the canals’ giving visitors a quick, yet vivid, account of how Amsterdam was created through urban planning, ingenuity and innovative engineering methods.
The museum at #386 Herengracht, is housed in a 17th century mansion built as the residence of merchant Karel Gerards.
Over the centuries the mansion would have a number of wealthy inhabitants, one of which was banker Jan Willink, an acquaintance of John Adams, 2nd President of the United States. Of note in the museum are historical records that tell of the various deals brokered here, including a deal resulting in Willink’s financial support of the US War of Independence. It’s reported that ‘until 1794, the United States were to borrow more than 30 million from Willink and other banking houses…’
On the bel étage level of het grachtenhuis, you’ll walk through the main rooms of the mansion for a glimpse of the opulence of the Golden Age; beautiful paintings and wall decorations, ornate fireplaces, and gilded mirrors.
The interactive exhibit, which utilizes several multimedia presentations, spans 400 years of Dutch history and focuses on the creation of the grachtengordel or ‘canal belt’ – the city’s response to a population boom during the Dutch Golden Age. Your tour of Het Grachtenhuis, includes animations and 3-D projections, among other techniques.
You’ll hear the stories of various immigrant groups arriving in Amsterdam during the Golden Age.
Venture into the map room and eavesdrop on discussions between the city fathers as they make plans for the expansion of Amsterdam.
Then, step over to the ‘construction sight’ and watch the buildings take shape as workers drive the pilings for the foundations and masons lay the brick.
From there, peek into a dollhouse that comes to life as the inhabitants go about every day tasks in their grachtenhuis.
And lastly, look out over a miniature replica of the city of Amsterdam and its extraordinary canal district.
Het Grachtenhuis Museum is located at Herengracht 386, in Amsterdam’s canal district. Tram (Line 1, 2, 5): Koningsplein
Adult Admission = 10.00€; FREE with the I amsterdam City Card.
Allow about an hour for your tour of Het Grachtenhuis Museum