The Tropenmuseum is not only one of the most impressive buildings I've ever visited - it's also a brilliant exhibition space, full of interesting items and brilliant stimuli without ever being overwhelming or overbearing; but most importantly, it's the first museum in an ex colonial country (NL) which manages to come to terms with its dark history in a mature and fair manner. Possibly the best museum I've ever visited, and definitely the best one in Amsterdam so far, Tropenmuseum is absolutely well worth your time and effort.
Let's start with the basics: Tropenmuseum resides in a building that was commissioned before WWII and was originally called the 'Colonial Institute'. Not much can be seen about it, and the name has changed - today it hosts runway shows and families with children. Given enough time, everything disappears.
Still, the Colonial Institute (now Tropenmuseum) does its best to remember its past, with one of the best, most atmospheric, permanent collections about the East Indies, a brilliant temporary exhibition about Curaçao and so many perfectly written snippets, beautiful objects and fragments of history.
To say more would be to spoil the experience - you should go in blind and draw your own conclusions. Depending on your views and personal experiences, it can be quite emotional.
Even better, the Tropenmuseum is still shining a light on the developing world and ex-colonies, with a number of brilliantly curated and incredibly well made exhibitions about the South of the World.
'Fashion Cities Africa' is one such collection, showing modern couture from Africa's up and coming metropolies and their influence in modern design. The only place where you'll find a Kitenge next to a Daily Paper blazer. Absolutely brilliant.
Much darker and a lot less sweet, "Bitter Chocolate Stories" highlights some of the largest issues of the global chocolate supply chain. Some of these issues are familiar to me - and I experienced them first hand when I was living below the Equator. But there's even more things I was unaware of, and this show is an absolute eye-opener.
Aside from the permanent collection and these two incredibly powerful shows, the Tropenmuseum features a large number of smaller collections, interactive spaces for children, a super cool exhibition about Japan (aptly called "Cool Japan") and a number of other interesting things in a beautiful, airy open space that looks like it was built yesterday. Needless to say, if you're ever in Amsterdam you should go and visit.
How to visit: Metro 51 from Central to Weesperplein, then tram 19. Or just take a bike, or walk from Central. Plenty of nice cafés to stop along the way, as well as the Artis Zoo and the botanical garden
What to bring: Definitely your camera. Oh, and 50 Eurocents for the lockers in the basement, where you can leave jackets and bags.