The category ‘history’ (439) accounted for the largest proportion of the total number of museums in The Netherlands at the end of 2017 (697). The smallest group is ‘ethnology’ (12 museums).
The bar graph above shows the distribution of museums in the Netherlands among the different categories at the end of 2017.
Museums in the Netherlands have been divided into 5 categories. These categories are also used by the Museums Association (MV) and Statistics Netherlands (CBS).
- Commerce, science and engineering;
- Natural history;
‘History’ the largest group
About two-thirds of the 697 museums in the Netherlands are historical museums (439). Besides large, well-known historical museums like the Rijksmuseum and Museum Het Valkhof, this category also includes smaller local history museums which play an important role in local communities because they are often run with the help of volunteers. The collections may cover a broad range of subjects, or focus on one particular subject, such as important historical figures.
Despite their relatively low numbers (131, 19% of the total) art museums also play an important role in the museum sector because of the importance of their collections and the fact that they attract large numbers of visitors with their permanent collections and temporary exhibitions. Another notable category is ‘industry, science and technology’ (72, 10% of the total). They are in the top three, alongside historical and art museums.
Small number of ethnological museums
The smallest category is ethnology museums (12, almost 2% of the total). The Africa Museum, Tropenmuseum and National Museum of Ethnology merged in 2014 to become the National Museum of World Cultures. They are still registered separately, however, and count as three museums.
Statistics Netherlands (CBS)
Dutch Museums Association (MV)
Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE)
31 December 2017
Stichting Museum Register Nederland is responsible for registering museums in the Netherlands and keeps a count of registered museums in the Museums Register.
Statistics Netherlands and the RCE used to keep their own records of unregistered museums. These two sets of records were merged at the end of 2015, and all were reassessed on the basis of new criteria. This produced a new basic list of museums in the Netherlands. The figures are updated annually by the RCE.
Criteria for non-registered museums:
- The museum must have a permanent location, be permanently open and accessible three or more days a week for at least 28 weeks a year.
- The museum must be not-for-profit, i.e. a registered charity (ANBI) or non-profit foundation (stichting).
- The museum must have its own collection on which it performs research with the aim of disseminating the knowledge acquired.
- The museum must have a website or be accessible via a link from a broader platform.
Museums that are not strictly museums in accordance with the rules but are regarded by the public as such are included in the figures as exceptions (Hermitage in Amsterdam, Kunsthal KAdE in Amersfoort, Kunsthal Rotterdam and the Nieuwe Kerk and Oude Kerk in Amsterdam).
Government-funded museums and exhibiting institutions that appear on the joint list of museums are known as ‘BIS institutions’ (institutions funded under the government’s Basic Cultural Infrastructure scheme). The current four-year funding period commenced on 1 January 2013. The BIS institutions will be reassessed in 2017.
Read here more about Museums.