Written for Associated Content and published 28/01/10.

The sprawling capital of the Netherlands is better known as the home of decadence, debauchery and legalised drugs, but beyond the red lights and smoke there is a more refined Amsterdam waiting for the culturally curious.

Amsterdam is home to a vast array of museums from the world famous – such as the Ann Frank and Van Gogh Museums – to the obscure. There are two major, and vastly different, photography museums in the city centre. Foam_Fotographiemuseum and the Huis Marseille Museum for Photography both stand on Keizersgracht, though some distance apart, and deal with very different styles of photography.


Foam opened in late 2001 and generally has four exhibitions on a variety of themes running at any one time. Often focusing on retrospectives by established icons of the medium and exhibits by young and up and coming photographers. The exhibits do not shy away from controversial subjects and often showcase innovative experiments in the medium.

Although the building itself has been a museum since the 1860s, inside Foam is quite a modern building, with lots of ups and downs and unexpected nooks in the galleries. While there is a lift between all floors, wheelchair users should be aware that some parts of the lower galleries are only accessible by stairs (call + 31 20 5516 500 for further information).


Huis Marseille Museum for Photography

The museum has recently celebrated its tenth anniversary and has really come into its own. Displaying temporary exhibitions by a variety of international photographers on diverse themes, but always with a certain visual intensity. The museum also makes use of the structure of the building to lead the visitor into discovering connections and themes between different simultaneously running exhibits.

The building that houses the Huis Marseille museum, is a seventeenth century canal house which was refurbished to suit its new purpose after the De Pont Museum for Contemporary Art bought it in 1993. The interior balances well the combination of the original decadence of the building, with spaces that are light and airy, perfect for displaying photographs.

Due to their light-sensitive nature, the museum’s permanent collection cannot be constantly on display so a rotating selection complements the temporary exhibitions. The full collection, over 200 pieces, can be viewed online and are fully searchable.

Getting There and Opening Hours

Keizergracht is one of the long streets, which follow the path of their neighbouring canals. There are a variety of museums and exhibitions along this particular street so that it would be quite easy to loose an entire day walking from one end to the other leisurely browsing the sites.

Foam is just around the corner from the stop for tram lines 1, 2 and 5 while Huis Maseille is close to the stop for lines 16, 24 and 25, all of which run via Amsterdam Centraal. So if you’re short of time, or sore of foot, you can travel between the two by tram by changing at Centraal.

Foam_fotographiemusuem is open:

Saturday – Wednesday, 10am – 6pm

Thursday – Friday, 10am – 9pm

Adults – €8.00

Students/65+ – €5.50

Under 12s – free

Huis Marseille is open:

Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm

Adults – €5

Students/Groups/Pass cards – €3

Under 18s – free

Keizergracht's canal