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With Amsterdam having such an open and liberal attitude as a city, many of the things that we find weird and wonderful about it are simply ways of life for the natives. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t unusual museums and attractions to be seen in the Dutch capital, and here are some of the best.
Putting our strongest foot forward, Museum Vrolik might just be one of the most unusual museums in the world, let alone in Amsterdam. Not one for the faint-hearted, the museum is home to a really rather extraordinary collection of human body parts, medical case studies and more, curated by Dr Gerardus Vrolik in the 19th century. Available to see are skulls, skeletons and human specimens with birth defects such as cyclopean babies, Siamese twins and more.
Another museum which should be treated with obvious caution, the Sex Museum is the oldest sex museum in the world, and hosts a collection of erotic paintings, photographs, recordings and more. The collection was personally arranged by the museum’s owners, and although it treats the history of sensual love with the respect it deserves, the displays are often tongue-in-cheek and light-hearted meaning that it is a great visit for couples as well as groups.
Not quite as weird, but certainly wonderful, the Light Festival sees fantastic illuminations and artwork take over the canals and walkways of Amsterdam from November to January each winter. These vibrant and colourful displays light up the city, and include everything from abstract works of art, to optical illusions, to more conceptual pieces such as Intrepid, a group of illuminated panels designed to look like a giant paper boat.
One of the newest museums in Amsterdam, the Tattoo Museum deals with the ancient tradition of skin art. With over 40 thousand objects in its collection, it covers the entire history of tattooing, including old needles, shop signs, photographs, posters and more. They even have real human skin (and pig skin), complete with crude tattoos, pickled in jars for visitors to peek at, perhaps from behind their fingers...
If the Vrolik museum isn’t quite dark enough for you, and Amsterdam Dungeon is a little too theatrical, then check out the Torture Museum. A winding maze of small, dark rooms packed with instruments of pain and torture, you’ll learn all about quite how twisted the human mind can be. Although, that being said, we’re sure plenty would appreciate a return of the Flute of Shame, designed to stop bad musicians from playing…
Perhaps the smallest zoo in the world, Micropia is dedicated to micro-organisms, hoping to show how beautiful the invisible world can be. Cultures grown in petri-dishes produce spectacular naturally-occurring designs which you can examine up close through the powerful microscopes. The scanner, which shows what you have growing on you and where, may leave your skin crawling a little bit, but will certainly fascinate and interest anybody interested in the world around them.