We'd chosen a late flight from Amsterdam, so we pretty had the entire day to spend in the city, and our iAmsterdam City Cards were still valid. We intended to start at some of the canal mansion museums on Keizergracht but didn't check the opening times; when we found ourselves there about 45 minutes early, we headed to the nearby photography museum Foam. The building was beautiful, industrial-chic with high ceilings and white walls, but the exhibits on weren't great.
When 11am arrived, we went into Museum Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis, a canal mansion dating from 1687, followed by Museum Van Loon, down the street. The two are fairly similar; both have lavishly decorated main houses (which are supposed to be reminiscent of Golden Age style, I believe) and a coach house, which are separated by a stretch of precisely manicured gardens. Both were interesting enough, and I had especially wanted to go to see the "hidden" gardens, which you really have no idea of from the street.
After that, we strolled through the bulb-filled Bloomenmarkt and then spent pretty much the rest of our touring time at the Amsterdam Museum, which was AMAZING. (Seriously, why are city museums always so great? Mexico City's is also fantastic, but I digress...) The Amsterdam Museum used multimedia and bold graphics, and the presentation was incredibly arresting. In the first section, the walls were pretty much all painted in a bold red and featured these clever graphics in black; then there were video stations where you could watch a video on a big screen in front of you while listening to the audio in your own language. In the main hall, there was a huge painting on the wall depicting Amsterdam through its famous people; the city itself is portrayed as a naked, tattooed lady, while -- and I loved this -- little Anne Frank is in the corner wearing a Powergirls t-shirt.
Holland and Turkey are celebrating 400 years of relations this year, and in both Istanbul and Amsterdam, there are a number of exhibits at various museums on the other country. So at the end of the Amsterdam Museum, there was an exhibit called Istanbul Contrasts, which was probably the best incarnation of these exhibits that we saw. It was made up of a series of dresses created by designers Ece and Ayse Ege, and each of the dresses was inspired by some element of the city, be it the domes, the tulips or the Spoonmaker Diamond in Topkapi Palace. The dresses themselves were lovely, but a group of them had been set up in this classically furnished Dutch room, and visually, I though the combination was stunning.
And that was pretty much the end of our trip. From the museum, we walked back to Central Station via Dam Square and the carnival going on.