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The Netherlands is a nation of seafarers. The National Maritime Museum on the IJ waterway in Amsterdam brings 500 years of maritime history to life in playful and colourful exhibitions. People of all ages love learning about the major role of shipping in Dutch culture. Hop on board a replica VOC vessel, travel through the Golden Age and discover a mysterious underwater world.
On the banks of the IJ waterway, you’ll find a former arsenal housed in a monumental historic building. This was once the warehouse where the Admiralty of Amsterdam stored canons, sails and other maritime equipment. Nowadays, it is open to the public to wander among the beautiful collection of maritime objects. Children are invited to go on a journey of exploration by means of interactive exhibitions with exciting themes. Even the youngest children love it here; a dedicated show full of luminous sea creatures has been created especially for them.
Walking on the street towards the museum, you’ll immediately notice the majestic sail ship De Amsterdam. The vessel is an exact replica of a famous East Indiaman of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) that unfortunately was wrecked during its first voyage in 1749. This type of vessel was used for months-long trips to the Far East in the 17th and 18th centuries. Amsterdam!, an exhibition inside the ship, vividly brings to life the adventures of those people on board during the long journeys.
Would you like to stand face-to-face with the Dutch maritime hero Michiel de Ruyter? Then take the virtual Sea Voyage adventure. This spectacular interactive show in the Maritime Museum takes you back in time to experience what it was like to be a famous or unknown sailor: enjoy stunning starry nights in the middle of the ocean until a storm awakens and you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a battle. Not to worry – relief is on the horizon when you hear the words ‘Land ho!’.
The whale, the largest animal on earth, plays a major part in Dutch maritime history. Although whale hunting is now forbidden, this wasn’t always the case. Its baleens and oil made the marine mammal a profitable prey and nearly led to its extinction until hunting was banned. The exhibition The tale of the whale teaches visitors how these magnificent creatures have been perceived through the centuries.
Especially for children up to the age of 6, the museum offers the show Sal & Lori and Circus Sea. In this magical underwater world, children and their parents first ‘swim’ among luminous fish and other sea creatures. The real show begins on the deck of a ship. Sal and Lori enter the arena and head out to sea with the captain. The expertly projected images and typical sounds of the sea make this a stimulating experience for the senses.