Spring is not the only tulip time in Holland. When the colorful bulb fields are past their peak and the seven million blooms in the famed Keukenhof garden no longer dazzle, tulip-loving tourists can still enjoy the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. This small but dynamic museum in Amsterdam’s central canal district captivates visitors year-round with the story of the world’s most storied flower.
The Amsterdam Tulip Museum is housed in a canal house at Prinsengracht 116 in the charming Jordaan neighborhood. Set amidst intimate shops and galleries, restaurants and sidewalk cafes, the museum is a short walk from Amsterdam’s Centraal train station and steps away from the Anne Frank House and Westerkerk, the Dutch Renaissance church and tower with 48-bell carillon.
With approximately 2,200 square feet of newly-updated shop and exhibit spaces, the museum is dedicated to the surprising and flamboyant history of the tulip. Varied interactive exhibits by local artists trace the famous flower’s journey from its origins in the wild highlands of the Himalayas to its arrival at the lavish court of the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent to its popularity in the home gardens of today. A visitor favorite is the exhibit that explores the famous Tulipmania period of the 1630s. It was in the century known as The Dutch Golden Age – when Amsterdam was the center of world trade, and Dutch art, science and maritime and military strength held sway worldwide – that the tumultuous tulip trade led to one of history’s most infamous market crashes.
Other exhibits include displays of Ottoman-style tulip-themed art and ceramics, authentic bulb industry artifacts and specially commissioned short films on tulip history. The entire museum can be fully experienced in under an hour, with a typical visitor review declaring it “a surprisingly thorough and satisfying museum.”
The ATM’s popular museum shop is open to the public, without admission fee, from 10 am to 6 pm daily. Those in the know consider it one of the best spots in Amsterdam to pick up gifts and mementos that go well beyond the usual tourist fare. Flower fanciers will revel in the shop’s carefully curated stock, much of it artist-commissioned. Antique hand-painted Delft tiles are a specialty, as are tulip-themed items of all sorts: vases, jewelry, trays, fine linens and tea towels, aprons, books, reproduction tile designs, handbags, totes, artwork, traditional Turkish tulip-themed bowls and plates, leaded-glass sun catchers and an assortment of children’s items and simply silly souvenirs.
Best of all for travelers, the Tulip Museum shop is known as a trusted source for top-quality, best-variety Dutch flower bulbs at good prices. The friendly multi-lingual staff is knowledgeable and all bulbs are fresh and ready for seasonal planting.
In fall, the bulbs of spring-blooming tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, alliums, lilies and more are offered. In winter, the selection features big beautiful amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs. In spring and early summer, dahlias, begonias, galtonia and other summer bloomers are available. North American shoppers will be happy to find bulbs that are pre-certified to safely clear U.S. and Canadian customs (warning: in both countries, customs officials confiscate uncertified bulbs).
The museum, open since 2004, is a cooperative venture of three 3rd generation Dutch bulbsmen. Their passion for tulips, tulip exploration, history and gardening is seen in their continuing enhancements to the museum experience, exhibits and style.
The Amsterdam Tulip Museum is located at Prinsengracht 116, 1015 EA Amsterdam - Netherlands, +31 (0)20 421 00 95. The museum and shop are open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, except King’s Day (April 27) and Christmas Day (December 25). Museum admission is €5 for adults, €3 for students and €15 for families of 3 or more. I amsterdam City Cards and Holland Pass are accepted. No admission is necessary to visit the museum shop.