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Museum Vrolik - University of Amsterdam

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by Jennifer Walter (subscribe)
Jennifer is a busy, busy bee.
Published August 9th 2012
As interesting as a Mausoleum - no really
Amsterdam has a whole host of wonderful things to see and do. But once you've done the Sex Museum, the Red Light District and Anne Frank's house, and become thoroughly sick of tourists pushing and shoving to giggle at the naughtiness of it all, you might find you're looking for something a little different.
Vrolik Amsterdam
A conjoined twins skeleton


The Vrolik Museum is certainly that. As the largest independent European collection of human mutations (and actually, one of only a few of it's kind in the world anyway) this museum is probably not for the faint hearted. However, if you have a lust for macabre and an ability to get past the icky-factor, this museum is massively interesting. The intricacies of the human body are amazing anyway, but in light of this collection of mutations, suddenly normal bodies seem pretty average.

A private collection owned by Professor Gerardus Vrolik, and later built on by his son Professor Willem Vrolik, the Vrolik museum is bizarrely (but altogether relevantly) situated in middle of the brightly-lit bustling Academic Medical Centre campus (AMC), which makes it all the more surreal when the heavy-set door wheezes shut behind you, leaving you in absolute, deformity-struck awe and silence.

Despite it mostly being a homage to human anomalies, the Vrolik also has an extensive display of regular human pieces, such as bones, skulls and an endlessly fascinating set of specimens where the veins have been inked; making every blood vessels' journey a transparently impressive thing. Perhaps the most incredible thing on display is the set of wombs at each stage in pregnancy, including the foetus.
Vrolik Amsterdam
Cross section of a pickled brain


If you like Damien Hirst's work, you've ever wondered how all those guts actually fit inside you, or you just find conjoined twins "doubly" interesting, then the Vrolik is absolutely worth a visit.
Vrolik Amsterdam
We're all just a skull underneath..


The AMC is just under a two hours (but very pleasant) walk. However, to bike it on a fine day is definitely a perfect juxtaposition to sneaking about in a large eerie hall full of mutant babies. From central Amsterdam, it'll take 40 minutes on a bike but it's a clear route which is extremely easy to follow from Google maps (I would suggest printing it out just as a failsafe - most hostels will have facilities for this). Alternatively, the Metro 54 from the city centre to Holendrecht station and a five minute stroll will get you there in just half an hour.

Because of the nature of the collection, it is almost certainly not for children under 12 and it would be wise to give this attraction a miss if you are feeling a little too high from Amsterdam's other extra-curricular, spliff-shaped activities.

The Museum is located in the Academic Medical Centre, building J0, next to lecture rooms 2 and 3. Open: Weekdays 9.30 am - 5 pm.
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Why? Because it is incredibly interesting.
When: All year round
Phone: 020 566 9111
Where: Faculty of Medicine, Academic Medical Center (AMC)
Cost: Free
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