If you ever wonder what life was like behind one of these stately towering Amsterdam canal houses, step into Museum Willet-Holthuysen and experience the journey back in time.
This 17th century double-fronted property at Herengracht 605 was originally built as a family residence for Jacob Hop, mayor of Amsterdam, in 1687. Over the course of centuries, several prominent families had lived in this house. The last occupant Louisa Holthuysen (1824 – 1895), widow of art collector Abraham Willet (1825 – 1888), bequeathed the house and their rich art collection to the city of Amsterdam. She stipulated that the building became a museum bearing their names. A year later, her beloved home was transformed into a museum and has remain so to this day.
Museum Willet-Holthuysen presents how Abraham and Louisa had lived their lavish and bohemian life in the 18th century. A large part of the museum set-ups are according to the original historical setting. One fine example is in the dining room where the formal table has been laid in festive style, complete with 275-piece Meissen dinner service. Visitors are free to roam the blue and gold Louis XVI style Ballroom, check out the Ladies’ Salon and the Gentlemen’s Parlor, take a break at the kitchen and scullery in the basement, enjoy the lovely octagonal conservatory overlooking the garden, discover the pantry half way up the staircase, inspects the bedrooms, examine the Abraham’s little antiques red room and more. Not forgetting their splendid possessions throughout the museum such glassware, silver, ceramics, sculptures, weapons, photos and prints, rare books and paintings.
Last but not least, have a walk around the elegant formal garden laid out in French style. Definitely a rare sight of a green oasis in the heart of Amsterdam.
My visit to Museum Willet-Holthuysen was a very pleasant experience. An opportunity to view the inside of a traditional Amsterdam’s canal house with fully furnished period rooms is not something I would miss. An insight into what life was like for the privileged residents of Herengracht, right here on one of the four Canal Ring listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The free (multilingual) audio tour helped make the most of my visit. It provided me with stories, short accounts of the special rooms and significant objects to admire. Museum Willet-Holthuysen is one of the lesser-known museums in Amsterdam that is well worth a visit.
Address: Herengracht 605. 1017CE Amsterdam.
Opening Hours: Opens daily from 10am to 5pm.
Entrance Fees: €12.50 for adults and free entry for kids under 18 years old. Free entry for Museumkaart holders. Free audio tour included! It is available in Dutch, English, Russian, German, Italian, Spanish and French.
Getting There: https://www.willetholthuysen.nl/en/visit/address-route
Note: The building has numerous flights of stairs with no lift. Thus, inaccessible to people on wheelchairs or on mobility scooters.