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There are over 400 museums in the tiny Netherlands, but, for me, one stands out for its value and quality: Amsterdam’s Foam Photography Museum.
Foam holds a roster of spectacular collections by world-famous photographers past and present, though its discreet Keizersgracht location keeps the place relatively peaceful. Its interior is modern and inventive, and the gallery size is manageable: It can take less than an hour to go through the entire museum.
As a college undergrad, the one photographer I remembered from my “easy A” photo class was Henri Cartier-Bresson. Five years later, I ran into his ability to capture the “decisive moment” when visiting Foam. This made me an instant Foam fan, and the museum just continues to impress.
Last year’s Richard Avedon exhibit delivered a spot-on portrayal of the innovative portrait and fashion photographer. I admit that I didn’t originally recognize his name, but after studying work displayed ever so elegantly around Foam, I’ll never again forget Avedon and his stunning shots. Nor will I forget turning the corner and seeing pop star Beyoncé gazing at a Marylin Monroe portrait.
Beyoncé! See? You don’t have to be a pro photographer or know-it-all shutterbug to enjoy Foam’s exhibitions. The laidback vibe at this museum allows visitors to take their time and explore the meaning of reflection and self-perception. For photo connoisseurs, Foam offers a private library full of photo books and classic albums. These are available to peruse by appointment.
An added bonus is the museum’s affordable admission charge. While big-name museums can charge €15 to €20 without blinking, Foam charges a more manageable €8 for adults and €5.50 for students and seniors.
I absolutely love Foam as a museum. The Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House, and Rijksmuseum are obvious city pearls, but don’t forget the city’s smaller museums, galleries, and studios located along the canals (“grachts”).
From Dam Square, take trams 16, 24 or 25 and stop at Keizersgracht.
Open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM
Thursdays and Fridays from 10 AM to 9 PM
Closed: Jan. 1st, April 30th, and June 21 to 24
city card/ cjp: €4,00
Club, Fan, Fund: free
children under 12: free
Museum card / I amsterdam card: free