Maritime Museum, Amsterdam

(In Dutch: ‘Scheepvaartmuseum’, the glorious shipping history heaven)


Below-decks where the cannons roar. Great for all ages.

Rebuilt seventeenth century ‘Indiaman’ ship, fully open to the public. After payment, this image is available for publication in books etc.

Join Drs. Kaldenbach in a visit to the exciting, great Museum for Dutch Maritime History. It is one of the four really great Maritime museums in the world. Tour by a professional Art Historian. Scholar with excellent teaching skills. Specialist in United East India Company. VIP entry. Entry any time of day. Family friendly, kids friendly. A full size rebuilt Indiaman ship is present!

New: Private Audio system available.

Camera team from USA, May 2017, at Maritime Museum / Scheepvaartmuseum.

Private tour of the redesigned Amsterdam Maritime museum in the spacious harbour district. An introduction to Dutch Shipping History, both for large ocean going ships (Indiaman, Man-O-War) you will visit a huge rebuilt one floating in the water – and Dutch inland ship models and ornaments shown inside.

Amsterdam Maritime Museum (Scheepvaartmuseum) has a wonderfully roofed courtyard, the roof pattern resembling a classic sea chart. Upon closing time in winter this dome is seen lit with thousands of sparkling LED lights against the dark sky. These light dots are situated at the intersection of all structural roof parts.
This Museum had a total makeover:


Models of various ships for inland transport and trade.

The new setup is tuned in to the digital age… for a public that has been jaded with instant data and instant visual gratification. The design philosophy starts from the idea that the modern museum should offer an immersive total experience, altogether different from browsing a web site or reading a book or walking by a series of ancient maritime objects, either full-size or model-size.

Therefore the Amsterdam Maritime Museum now offers lots of video + sound spots, TV actors with voices telling stories, the splash of sea waves, digital talking lifesize figures, colour, pattern, lighting, large touchscreen computer monitors – and a varied interior design – all convey a waterfall of visual stimulus and lots of mood and an experience. Modern digital technology also allows for hands-on question and answer situation, connecting the visitor with the maritime objects and background data. This background data is quite succinct -alas there is no second or third or fourth layer of background stud material available. Knowledge thus stays skin deep.

A beautifully produced set of Hondius globes, one heavenly, one earthly, in the outstanding EAST wing globe section, actually containing one of the finest collections of historic globes in the world.

To me this EAST wing with the painting department (below) and the navigational instruments and yacht models are the key glories of the museum.

Exploded wooden ship model, created for teaching purposes.

One of the prize paintings is a large battle scened by Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen, showing a Sea battle at Gibraltar. When tapping a table-like touchscreen computer table in this room, the TV screen shows this detail and explains the subject matter and goings on, and a spotlight also highlights that same subject in the painting.
All paintings shown here have been wonderfully cleaned, varnished, framed, and the lighting is state of the art. It becomes a feast for the eye.
In the WEST wing you will see the series of rooms on 17th century daily life, “See you in the Golden Age” are also pretty good.

Better skip the NORTH wing Sea Journey, a 20 minute animatronic digital trip through 4 rooms, a noisy digital sensorial show which does not resemble a Disneyland show. Actually, it is a slightly failed light-and-sound-and-movement shows.

And now for the upbeat: … During my guiding tour in the EAST and WEST wings I can bring to life the 17th century world of Dutch cities, economy, mapping, atlas production and in general: Dutch science and technology and how it also relates to a series of paintings by Vermeer (I will bring the Vermeer book, don’t worry).

Seascape with ships by Jan van der Velde senior.

Seascape with ships by Jan van der Velde the Younger.

One of the largest glass showcases in Western Europe containing medium-small to really tiny wooden replicas of ships in former centuries.
If you wish to enter a real size one, step outside the NORTH wing and you can board the big replica – a wonderful bonus. On board some actors are living in the mental delusion that they actually are 17th century characters. They will show their lifestyle, cooking, cannon shots and a sea burial.

As I have published an article on inland shipping I can explain about the daily practice. I can also discuss the shipping link with Vermeer, as we walk among the Maps, Globes, and compare these subjects with items in Vermeer paintings: Geographer, Astronomer, etc.
Thus Maritime History and Art History come alive.
Discussing cities, economy, mapping and Dutch science and technology and how it also relates to a series of paintings.
Outside is the great surprise: a full size replica of a 17th C ship. Visit the upper deck, lower deck and the hold. Impressive!

Larger images are available on this old school site.

Inner square, now covered.


Business card. The logo refers to Vermeer.

Tour by Drs Kees Kaldenbach, a professional Art History scholar with excellent teaching skills. Specialist in Fine art and Design, Architecture and History. VIP entry.

Drs Kees Kaldenbach: „…he is wildly overqualified to be a guide . That is his secret… Trust me on this.” Gabe. Statement made February, 2017.

An unexpected ship model in the Old Church nearby.