The open, large expanse of the present Museumplein and surroundings, before the new neighborhood was built, used to accommodate market gardens, windmills and a few summer retreats. In the final quarter of the nineteenth century a number of impressive buildings and city residences were erected with no special regard for planning, including the Concertgebouw and the Stedelijk and Rijks museums. When in 1883 the World Exhibition was held in Amsterdam the area was also allocated as site for the exhibition pavilions that remained there for six months. Only in 1907 was a start made with the construction of the neighborhood Museumkwartier. Its status as a society neighborhood can still be discerned from its spacious planning and its elegant and large buildings. The street plan is from the hand of P.J.H. Cuypers.
Situated around the Museumplein are the three most important museums, the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum and the Van Gogh Museum. The square itself is an extensive lawn with fountain. The fourth important building on the Museumplein is the Concertgebouw.
Construction of the Concertgebouw began in 1883 in an empty polder outside the city and the building opened five years later. The building contains three concert halls of which the large hall enjoys a reputation for its superior acoustics, particularly for symphonic music. The Concertgebouw has served since its inception as home base for the Koninklijk Concertgebouw Orchestra. The Concertgebouw Orchestra is world famous and, with its principal conductor since 2004, Mariss Jansons, is rated as one of the best orchestras in the world.
The Rijksmuseum, situated on the other side of the Museumplein between the square and Spiegelgracht, is the most important art and historical museum of the Netherlands. The building erected to the design of architect P.J.H. Cuypers between 1876 and 1885 has more than 200 halls. Its collection includes the cream of leading Dutch Masters like Jan van Scorel, Jacob van Ruisdael, Dirck Hals, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen anendrick ter Brugghen.
The Stedelijk Museum of modern art that was built in the 1890s is closed for major renovation until 2012.
The most heavily visited museum on the square is the Van Gogh Museum. The building that was designed by Gerrit Rietveld was built between 1969 and 1973. The collection of the museum includes more than two hundred paintings and five hundred drawings of Vincent van Gogh.
Museumkwartier is bisected by the Van Baerlestraat. The Concertgebouw is located on this street. There are a lot of shops here with nearby the other important shopping street of the neighborhood, PC Hooftstraat where many fashion boutiques and some couturiers operate. Parallel to the PC Hooftstraat runs according to many the most attractive street of the neighborhood, Jan Luijkenstraat, a quiet street where the houses are characterized by many Jugendstil elements.
Tramlines 2, 3, 5, 12, 16 and 24 pass through the neighborhood.
- Dam square
- Western canal belt
- Eastern canal belt
- Zoo Artis
- Eastern islands
- Eastern docklands
- Western islands
- Museum district
- De Pijp
- De Baarsjes
- Rivierenbuurt / RAI