Kids museums in the Netherlands

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Dutch museum card.

From 1981 onwards it is possible in the Netherlands to buy a museum card. If you intend to visit several museums it might be a good idea buying such a card, especially if you’re staying in the Netherlands or intend to visit it more than once a year. A museum Card for adults currently costs € 64.90 and one for children € 32.45.

Adults can buy a temporary card at certain museums or online. Unfortunately there are no temporary cards for children. A temporary card gives adults direct access to 5 museums and is valid for 31 days. After registration and receiving your permanent card you can use your permanent card for the entire year. You can also have your permanent card sent to an address outside the Netherlands for € 3.25. A permanent card for children above 12 or adults contains a passport photo.

There are several museums in the Netherlands that one would love to see but cost quite a bit of money to visit e.g. the National Museum (“Rijksmuseum”) , Van Gogh Museum and City Museum (“Stedelijk Museum”). When you visit about 4 of them, a museum card might be cheaper. There are about 400 museums in which you can use the card. However, be aware that temporary exhibitions that are costly to the museum are often not included in the card and you might have to pay an additional prize to get in.

Children’s museums.

I used to go to museums a lot. With a museum card it’s easier to step inside. When you only have an hour or so to spend you don’t have to think about the costs. You just enter and see what you want to see, sometimes only a small part of a museum. After our daughter was born visiting a museum became a difficult activity to do with her. In the beginning I would enter… and then she would poo and I had to change her diaper. Or she would get hungry and I had to breastfeed. Or she just wanted to get some attention and… You get the message. So my husband and I used to decide which one of us could go to the museum while the other one was spending time with our daughter. It was usually my husband who got to go.

Our daughter grew older. She’s 4 now. A lot has changed and if we choose the right museums she can now enjoy them too. So we all have museum cards again and live to spend more and more time at several museums. Of course not all museums are designed for young children. However, some are specifically made for them. Here is my list of favorite museums for children in the Netherlands. If you have any suggestions of museums that are not included in this list: please tell us about them. We love to visit them too!

1. Aviodrome, Lelystad.

The first time I visited this museum was with one of my nephews. He loved it. These days this is one of our daughter’s favorite museums. After going through the entrance, which looks like the check in at an airport, you walk directly towards a playground. If children are able to conquer the baggage belt by themselves they are allowed enter the top floors of the playground. Next to this playground is the restaurant, so parents can sit, drink and eat while the kids are playing.

The museum itself is also entertaining for children. It takes you through the history of flying. There are many planes to be seen, but there are also some planes to enter. One of the highlights is the Boeing 747. It got there by water and road as the airport in Lelystad was too small for such a plane to land. It took them 4 days to get the plane to Lelystad. There are flight simulators, a control room, a space exhibition and much, much more. Don’t forget to visit the outside area with several planes and hangars. Halfway the museum there is a second playground and sitting area. There are usually several volunteers walking around in the museum who can tell you interesting stories about the first flights to the Dutch Indies, war planes, Anthony Fokker and Schiphol Airport.

2. Nemo, Amsterdam.

At a 10-minute walking distance from Amsterdam Central Station you can find Nemo, also known as “the science museum”. To children this is the place to go. There are five floors, that all have their own name and type of scientific experiments. It’s a museum where you can spend hours and hours. On the top floor you can go outside and enjoy a beautiful view over Amsterdam. There are even some experiments on the roof and in summer when the weather is nice it’s a great place to be.

The first time we took our daughter to Nemo she did not want to leave. One of her favorite places in the museum is the soap bubbles area, where you can create a soap bubble around you. A couple of times a day you can witness a chain reaction near the staircase. My husband was intrigued by the mind tricks that were explained by some of the people working at the museum. The first time we went we made a balloon car in one of the workplaces. It gave us many hours of fun. The best about this museum is that almost everything is interactive. You get to experiment with water, electricity, magnets, etc. etc. and learn a lot during your visit.

3. Railway Museum, Utrecht.

At a young age our daughter started to become fascinated by trains. Of course Thomas the Tank Engine and Chuggington increased her interest. It was only a matter of time until we would visit the Railway Museum. Yet another grand way of entering a museum: through the old Station of Maliebaan. The entrance hall by itself is quite impressive. It was built in 1874 and you can buy the museum tickets at the ticketing boots. There is a Shuttle train from Utrecht Centraal to the old station Maliebaan in case you are traveling by train. When you move on to the platforms, you already see the first trains. Here you can enter an old train that used to transport our royal family. When you continue your way you arrive at the actual museum.

A couple of times a year there are Thomas and Chuggington-days. For these days you have to buy special tickets that are sold out really fast. We chose to go on a regular day with not too many visitors. It gave us the opportunity to have a better look at the rooms at the top floor, where we could do several experiments and learn how a train works. We also got to see some of the many trains the museum has. Outside is a playground. Next to it a special children’s train called ‘the Jumbo Express’. For young children this is a fantastic ride. For older children there are several other attractions, like the ‘Trial by Fire’.

4. PIT Safety Museum, Almere.

Ask a child what he or she wants to become when it’s grown up and many of them will answer “a policeman”, “a fire fighter” or – less common – “a paramedic”. In the PIT Museum you can find out all about these professions. After entering the museum the fun starts: you get to choose a profession and dress up accordingly. Soon we no longer had a cute little girl, but a touch police woman by our sides. She was our guide for the coming hour and she had a Paw Patrol questionnaire to help us through the Museum.

When we arrived at one of the ambulances a volunteer opened the vehicle and let us in. This was one of the best parts about the museum. He explained everything that was inside, answered our questions and taught us a thing or two on the way. After we had moved on we had a similar experience at the fire truck. This time we did not enter, but our brave police woman got to experience what it is like to hold a fire hose.

To our daughter the best part of the Museum were the go-karts. She got to drive a few lapses and learn about traffic. Because there was no one else around she got to drive a lot longer than the two lapses that are usually allowed when it is crowded. Of course she passed her exam. The police part was mainly meant for older children, so we skipped that. We almost forgot to give back the police uniform but in the end we did. Our daughter had a very happy smile on her face when we returned home with a Lego fire truck.

5. Naturalis, Leiden

This museum just re-opened in a brand new building. One of the reasons this biodiversity center had to build a bigger building is that the number of visitors was way larger than the amount of visitors the old building was designed for. On top of it there was not enough space to accommodate the T-Rex, a certain crowd puller. Apart from the favorite amongst dinos this museum hosts 37 million objects. You can imagine that for a child who’s interested in nature this museum cannot be missed. We visited it shortly after the opening and we were impressed.

Every night before our daughter goes to sleep I read her a chapter from a book. The book we’re reading at the moment is called ‘the Gorgels’. It’s about creatures who make sure the children fall asleep and protect them against little monsters that cause illnesses. At nighttime they stay watch and fight off the monsters (or germs) with a stick. They also cure wounds by creating scabs. Unfortunately this book is only translated in German. But to my Dutch and German readers with children I can definitely recommend it. Dutch comedian Jochem Myjer wrote this book. There are several other books and products about the Gorgels.

The father of the main character works in Naturalis. In the book the museum is called ‘the dead zoo’. It makes sense that his father, who has an interest in the Gorgels, works at such a place. It also makes sense that the book presentation was at the old building of Naturalis several years ago. Naturalis Biodiversity Center has inspired many people so far and hopefully in the new building the museum will inspire many more.

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