Het Scheepvaartmuseum

Het Scheepvaartmuseum

Scheepvaartmuseum dusk. Copyright: Bridges of Amsterdam (James Walker)



The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) is an award-winning museum that showcases the Netherlands’ strong historic links with the sea.

Located in the Oosterdok area of Amsterdam, the museum is dedicated to maritime history and contains many artifacts associated with shipping and sailing, including paintings, scale models, weapons and world maps.

Het Scheepvaartmuseum is housed in ’s Lands Zeemagazijn (‘The Arsenal’). This historic building dates from 1656 and was designed by Daniel Stalpaert as a storehouse for the Admiralty of Amsterdam.

The Arsenal was built during the Dutch Golden Age, when Amsterdam was the largest port and market place in the world. It originally held cannons, sails, flags and other provisions for the war fleet.

Scheepvaartmuseum and VOC ship

The building remained a storehouse for the navy until the early 1970s, and was officially opened by Princess Beatrix as the National Maritime Museum on April 13, 1973.

The centrepiece of the museum, which welcomed 300,000 visitors in 2015, is the three-masted Amsterdam – a replica of an 18th-century VOC ship which sailed between the Netherlands and the East Indies. The ship was built between 1985 and 1990 and has been moored up at the Scheepvaartmuseum since 1991.

More recently, the museum underwent an extensive, €17.5m renovation in 2007. Het Scheepvaartmuseum reopened (with a new glass and steel ceiling above the central courtyard) on October 2, 2011.

Scheepvaartmuseum. Copyright: Bridges of Amsterdam (James Walker)


The former military arsenal was designed with security in mind, and Het Scheepvaartmuseum is surrounded by water on all sides. Two primary bridges connect the building to mainland Amsterdam, which we have named Zuidelijke Brug (Southern Bridge) and Oostelijke Brug (Eastern Bridge). Both bridges are privately owned and operated by the museum.


Scheepvaartmuseum Zuidelijke Brug 1

The Southern Bridge is the main access point for visitors. This simple wooden footbridge leads out to the Kattenburgerstraat.

Scheepvaartmuseum Zuidelijke Brug 2


Scheepvaartmuseum, Oostelijke Brug 1

The Eastern Bridge is used as an emergency exit for Het Scheepvaartmuseum. It leads to Pension Homeland, a mixed-use leisure and hotel district on the site of Amsterdam’s former naval yard.

Scheepvaartmuseum, Oostelijke Brug 2


In addtion to the primary structures listed above, Het Scheepvaartmuseum is home to three other bridges. The first leads off the main VOC ship pier to a private entrance for museum staff:

Scheepvaartmuseum, Northern Bridge 1

The second leads to the ship itself:

Scheepvaartmuseum, Ship Bridge 1

The last bridge at Het Scheepvaartmuseum is easy to miss but (as far as we’re aware) enjoys the position of being Amsterdam’s only scissor lift bridge:

Scheepvaartmuseum, Marco Scissor Bridge

Designed by Marco AB of Sweden and located next to the Zuidelijke Brug, this platform is used for the transportation of goods across the water. In addition to the scissor lift mechanism, the structure has extending platforms that form a bridge across the channel.

Scheepvaartmuseum, The Amsterdam

The Amsterdam

Scheepvaartmuseum, On board The Amsterdam

About James

Owner/Editor, Bridges of Amsterdam