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aulus Potterstraat 7; adult/child €14/free, audiotour €5; 10am-6pm Sat-Thu, to 10pm Fri; ; 2/3/5/12 Van Baerlestraat) The world¡¯s largest Van Gogh collection packs the building and offers a superb line-up of masterworks.
Trace the artist¡¯s life from his tentative start through his giddy-coloured sunflower phase, and on to the black cloud that descended over him and his work.
There are also paintings by contemporaries Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet and Bernard.
Entrance queues can be huge, as the museum is pretty much the top draw in town.
Try waiting until after 3pm.
Prebooked e-tickets and discount cards expedite the process with fast-track entry.
Or visit on Friday evenings, when the museum stays open late, serves drinks and hosts free cultural events.
VAN GOGH MUSEUM ITINERARY To see the core collection head to Floor 1 (not to be confused with Floor 0, aka the ground floor where you enter).
Van Gogh¡¯s paintings hang in chronological order here.
?Netherlands/Earliest Works Room Shadowy, sombre images from Van Gogh¡¯s time in the Dutch countryside and in Antwerp fill the space.
The Potato Eaters (1885) is his most famous piece from this period.
Skeleton with Burning Cigarette (1886) was painted when Van Gogh was a student at Antwerp¡¯s art academy.
?Paris/Self-Portraits Room In March 1886 Van Gogh moved to Paris, where his brother Theo was working as an art dealer.
Van Gogh wanted to master the art of portraiture, but was too poor to pay for models.
?Sunflowers/Arles Room In 1888 Van Gogh left for Arles in Provence to delve into its colourful landscapes.
This room hangs an awesome line-up of Sunflowers (1889) and other blossoms.
Also here is The Bedroom (1888), which depicts Van Gogh¡¯s sleeping quarters at the house where he intended to start an artists colony with Paul Gauguin.
The year 1888 is perhaps most notorious as the year Van Gogh sliced off part of his ear.
?Final Years Room Van Gogh had himself committed to an asylum in St-R¨¦my in 1889.
While there he painted several landscapes with cypress and olive trees.
In 1890 he left the clinic and went north to Auvers-sur-Oise.
One of his last paintings, Wheatfield with Crows (1890), is an ominous work finished shortly before his suicide.
?Other Floors Floor 0 shows paintings mostly by Van Gogh¡¯s precursors, such as Millet and Courbet, though Vincent¡¯s work is sprinkled in.
Floor 2 houses temporary educational exhibits and works on paper.
Floor 3 hangs Van Gogh¡¯s contemporaries and those he influenced.
This is another bountiful level, where you might spy landscapes by Monet and Gauguin, or a room full of French fauvists.
?Exhibition Wing Reaching back towards the Museumplein, the Kisho Kurokawa¨Cdesigned exhibition wing is commonly referred to as ¡®the Mussel¡¯.
It hosts blockbuster exhibitions.
Rijksmuseum MUSEUM Offline map Google map (National Museum; 674 70 00; www.rijksmuseum.nl; Stadhouderskade 42; adult/child €15/free; 9am-5pm; ; 2/5 Hobbemastraat) The Rijksmuseum is the Netherlands¡¯ premier art trove.
After a 10-year renovation, it reopened in its entirety in April 2013, splashing Rembrandts, Vermeers and 7500 other masterpieces over 1.
5km of galleries.
The Golden Age works are the highlight.
Feast your eyes on meaty still lifes, gentlemen in ruffled collars and landscapes bathed in pale yellow light.
Rembrandt¡¯s The Night Watch (1642) takes pride of place.
Initially titled Company of Frans Banning Cocq (the militia¡¯s leader), the The Night Watch name was bestowed years later due to a layer of grime that gave the impression it was evening.
Crowds mob the massive painting.
Other must-sees are the Delftware (blue-and-white pottery), dollhouses (insanely detailed) and brand-new Asian Pavilion.
The sculpture-studded gardens around the exterior are free to visit.
To avoid the biggest crowds, come after 3pm.
Or prebook tickets online, which provides fast-track entry.
Stedelijk Museum MUSEUM Offline map Google map ( 573 29 11; www.stedelijk.nl; Museumplein 10; adult/child €15/free; 11am-5pm Tue & Wed, 11am-10pm Thu, 10am-6pm Fri-Sun; ; 2/3/5/12 Van Baerlestraat) Amsterdam¡¯s weighty modern art museum is among the world¡¯s best.
It struts Matisse cut-outs, Kandinsky abstracts, Picasso drawings, Rodin sculptures, and a vivid collection of paintings by Dutch homeboys Piet Mondrian, Willem de Kooning, Charlie Toorop and Karel Appel.
After a nine- year renovation, the Stedelijk reopened in September 2012 with a huge new wing (dubbed ¡®The Bathtub¡¯), where uber-contemporary installations add to the show.
The main building also displays textiles, glassworks, posters and cool industrial design pieces (Mies van der Rohe chair, anyone?).
Ask about free tours.
House of Bols MUSEUM Offline map Google map (www.houseofbols.com; Paulus Potterstraat 14; admission €12.
50; noon- 5.
30pm Sun-Thu, to 9pm Fri, to 7pm Sat; 2/5 Hobbemastraat) An hour¡¯s self-guided tour through this jenever (Dutch gin) museum includes a confusing sniff test, a distilled history of the Bols company and a cocktail made by one of its formidable bartenders, who train at the academy upstairs.
It¡¯s kind of Tom Cruise Cocktail cheesy, but fun.
Come Friday after 5pm, when admission is only €7.
Diamond Museum MUSEUM Offline map Google map (www.diamantmuseum.nl; Paulus Potterstraat 8; adult/child €7.
50/5; 9am- 5pm; 2/5 Hobbemastraat) Almost all of the exhibits at the small, low-tech Diamond Museum are clever recreations, glinting in glass cases.
Those who are economically minded might want to save money by just going next door to Coster Diamonds (the company owns the museum and is attached to it) and taking a free workshop tour, where you can see gem cutters and polishers doing their thing.
RIJKSMUSEUM HIGHLIGHTS ?The Night Watch (1642) by Rembrandt van Rijn ?Kitchen Maid (1658) by Jan Vermeer ?The Merry Drinker (1628¨C30) by Frans Hals ?The Merry Family (1668) by Jan Steen ?Delftware pottery collection (late 1600s) VONDELPARK The city¡¯s bucolic playground unfurls next door to the busy Museum Quarter.
Vondelpark PARK Offline map Google map (www.vondelpark.nl; Stadhouderskade; 24hr; 2/5 Hobbemastraat) On a sunny day it seems the whole city converges on this sprawling equivalent to New York City¡¯s Central Park.
Couples kiss on the grass, friends cradle beers at the outdoor cafes, while others trade songs on beat-up guitars.
The people-watching is sublime.
Named for 17th-century poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel, the ¡®Dutch Shakespeare¡¯, the park rolls out ponds, lawns, gardens and winding paths prime for pedaling.
The closest bicycle rental shop is MacBike (www.macbike.nl; Weteringschans 2; 1/2/5/7/10 Leidseplein), across the Singelgracht from the main entrance.
In summer, be sure to see what¡¯s on at the free Openluchttheater .
RIDING SCHOOL Hollandsche Manege Offline map Google map (www.dehollandschemanege.nl; Vondelstraat 140; 10am-5pm; 1 1e Constantijn Huygensstraat) Softly sunlit and smelling of hay and horses, the neoclassical Hollandsche Manege (1882) is an Amsterdam treasure.
Buy treats in the shop to feed the creatures, or watch the instructors put them through their paces as you sip in the elegant cafe.
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