Amsterdam is something of a contradiction. On the one hand, it’s an incredibly cultural European city, with historic architecture, wonderful museums and beautiful galleries. On the other hand, it’s one of the most famous red-light cities in the world, with cannabis cafés, sex-shops and women in windows, selling sex. Perhaps one of the most interesting destinations in Amsterdam is the place that marries these two views of Amsterdam – the Sex Museum.
The entryway greets you with a large replica of the statue of Venus, accompanied by wax figures of those more recent sex symbols, Marilyn Monroe and Mata Hari. You might be distracted by the large plastic phalluses. The museum is easy to find – just across from Central Station on Damrak Street – so it’s easy to get there from most Amsterdam apartments
or hotels. There’s nothing quite like the sight of old-time sepia-colored photographs where dapper men stand as naked as the day they were born, except, of course, for their hats and handlebar mustaches. It’s as if Instagram was used to make porn.
Speaking of photographs, something that is a real bonus in this day and age is the fact that the Sex Museum does not have a no-photo policy. You can happily record your visit, posing with mannequins in a recreation of an alleyway, leaning up against various private parts, or staring in fascination at various depictions of the act of love from different cultures.
That’s not to say the museum is simply a joke. It is, in fact, incredibly interesting, with the exhibits showing how sex and the body were regarded at different points in history amongst different cultures. It’s a must-see on any trip to Amsterdam, and admission is just €4, but you do have to be 16 years of age or older to get in.