I am not living up to my “publish a post every two to three days” mantra at the moment, but not without good reason – it’s “that time” of year! We have two weeks left at school and quite simply far too much going on. With the news that we will be here until at least Christmas now if not a little beyond, it has also meant that I can finally begin to organise our summer properly (nothing like leaving it to the last minute, as aside from our annual pilgrimage back home we had nothing sorted until 3 days ago!) – and unlike last year’s Summer full of city breaks in Amsterdam, London, Budapest, Bratislava, and Berlin, this year we have opted for a chunk of much needed relaxation too, in a part of the world we had high on our bucket list before we leave. More on that in a couple of weeks.
Speaking of last year’s city breaks, excuse my well documented OCD tendencies, but I have yet to write about Amsterdam’s Nemo Science Center. We are a little obsessed with the science museums of the world, and spent a large chunk of our time in Copenhagen’s (excellent) Experimentarium when we lived there, and usually like to make sure we visit a science museum or two on our travels a little further afield. So of course, whilst in Amsterdam, Nemo was firmly at the top of our list…
Firstly, a word of warning. Nemo is not really for grown ups. There are so many reviews that say “we went here and it was full of kids spoiling everything for the adults” – that’s because, quite simply, it’s not for adults. If you are thinking about setting foot through Nemo’s doors without a small person in tow, please bear this in mind. If you have no small people of your own, borrow them – become a favourite surrogate aunt or uncle to your friend’s children as this is the kind of place that makes for a great day out IF you are with kids. Secondly, I am not sure I would head to Nemo on a rainy day, I have visions of it getting far too overcrowded. I would also recommend getting there super early to enjoy the exhibits before the hoards arrive.
Look across Amsterdam’s waterfront and you cannot miss this place. Nemo’s iconic building is something of an architecture lover’s dream – and with its fabulous (and free roof garden) you could always pay your baby sitter to take your children inside whilst you sunbathe on the roof of the very building they are exploring – if science museums are not your thing – you can’t say that’s not a good plan?
Spread over several floors, there’s definitely something for every science enthusiast. For the biology fans – seek out the DNA exhibit on the ground floor, near this is an almost hidden section full of jars containing various things that might not be suitable for the smallest guests, but is absolutely fascinating to those in the 10+ category.
Future engineers can indulge in various challenges across the site, including those involving light and sound; and those interested in chemistry can experiment away in real laboratories complete with everything from white lab coats, serious experiments, and over enthusiastic fathers. I was hoping we might even see Beaker from The Muppets in here, but sadly not.
Mr R seriously supervises some science
And whilst the experimenters were busy, Small Boy and I ventured to further floors, incorporating some time spent exploring the mysterious world of shadows – made quite amusing by the fact that I was 6 months pregnant at the time. Then the beached whale (me) took some well deserved time out on the top floors to admire the view across this amazing city, whilst listening to an over excited small boy rant on about the axis of rotation…
shadow with bump…
I know people complain about the price of this place (which by the way is free with the various cards listed below), and whilst I agree it’s not cheap, it works out about the same price as taking your family to the cinema. So, unless you happen to be watching a film about science, I know which experience everyone will come away from having learned something…
Don’t miss the live shows run by the Museum’s enthusiastic technicians. They do get busy however, so encourage small people to take a seat at the front whilst you take some time out for a well deserved coffee (and a secret cake!) at the back…
All in all a good morning or afternoon out. I would say day, but I don’t really feel it has quite enough going on to keep you occupied for an entire day compared to the other big world Science Museums out there. However, what it does have going on is seriously enjoyable for children – and anything that encourages them in the sciences has to be a good thing right? I mean, someone has to invent that flying mobility scooter I want for when I am 135!
- Nemo is open from 10-17.30 from Tuesday to Sunday (it is only open on a Monday between late March and early September, other than that it opens on a Monday during public holidays and school holidays!). Get there early to avoid the crowds, and have a serious think about attending on a rainy day;
- The cafeteria offers a few good choices, but when there’s a gorgeous roof terrace to be had, pack a picnic and head there instead;
- It costs €15 for those over the age of four to get in, but entrance is completely free for Stadspas, I Amsterdam and MuseumKaart holders;
- Book e-tickets online to save time in that;
- Children under the age of 12 absolutely must be supervised;
- Head to the roof and to the top floors for some great views of the city – the roof terrace is free and there’s a good restaurant;
- Bear in mind that as is very much the Dutch way when it comes to such things (there’s a reason why they have the lowest teen pregnancy rate in Europe) the very top floor includes some quite graphic sex education exhibits, including one particular display featuring hundreds of little wooden artists models engaged in various positions – which resulted in much hilarity for both Small people who thankfully thought they were engaged in gymnastics. You have been warned;
PS. Don’t miss the fantastic old ships behind museum, if indeed they float your boat!…
Kara Guppy says
This reminds me of a science centre we have in Bristol but on a much larger scale – it must be an amazing place to visit. Hopefully we will get there one day with the kids
Thanks Kara, I think your guys would love it! (:
It is rare to see museums like this one thought only for kids! Good finding, thanks
I don’t think adults are banned, they might not just find it as appealing without them! :D Thank you…
JuggleMum, Nadine Hill says
What a great post and fab coincidence! I have just returned from a weekend in Amsterdam where we sailed past this museum on our canal boat tour! I got some great shots of the outside so it was nice to see inside and hear your thoughts.
I hope you had a great time! What a great place for a hen do! :D
Nemo sounds awesome for the little ones and I’m sure my nieces and nephews would love it there! The building also looks so cool which would instantly get them excited!
It’s a really cool building. Thanks Paul! :)
Jen Walshaw says
Oh that looks like a great place to visit with the kids and a perfect place for my boys. We have Amsterdam on our to-do list with the boys after being there as a couple.
It’s a fantastic place for kids too, so much for them to see and do! Thanks Jen! (:
Trish @ Mum's Gone To says
My son would have loved this when he was younger but missed out. We only got to Amsterdam once he’d left home and sensibly enjoyed looking at Nemo from the outside but didn’t venture in as a couple.
Sounds a great place – I would like to go, if only to giggle at the gymnastics display!
It was quite eye-opening Trish! :D x
I saw the word Nemo, and thought of Finding Nemo :D But in all seriousness, this looks like a fab museum for kids – love that it is catered especially for them, and that they can get hands on.
I think lots of people must think that! :D Thanks Michelle!
Anne Klien ( MeAnne) says
I’ve only been to one science museum that was in Norway with friends. Im more of arts museum lover. But saying that I might love to photograph the outdoor, very nice extra ordinary building design.
We love art galleries too! :) Thanks Anne!
Ha, we spent some time lounging around in the sun with adult beverages outside Nemo, but – not having any small persons with us – we passed on a trip inside, even though we had the Amsterdam City card. It does look like something my boys would have enjoyed a few years ago, although I don’t think anything will ever top the Digestive tract exhibit they went through at a Science Center (in Phoenix, maybe?) and the overwhelming number of poo jokes I was subjected to after they successfully navigated out the end of the ‘tunnel.’
Ha! Funnily enough, there were all kinds of toilet humour displays going on in the loos at this place too… Thanks C! :)
Sarah MumofThree World says
This is great to read about. We’ve been to Amsterdam twice and it’s one of our absolute favourite places. We’ve seen the Nemo building, but haven’t visited – too much to do, too little time! My boys went to Haarlem near Amsterdam on Scout camp last year and they actually did go to Nemo and really enjoyed it. Hopefully we will get to visit one day (and we’ll make sure we have the kids with us!).
Any excuse for another trip to Amsterdam! :)
Nicole | Wee Gypsy Girl says
That looks so much fun for kids! If you are ever in Glasgow, you should visit the Science Centre there- so much fun, especially for adults!
We have yet to make it to Glasgow Nicole, but it’s on my list! :)
christine leger says
We absolutely loved the Nemo centre. The top floor was a little too graphic for my 4 yro but he had a blast touching all the science stuff and watching the show around noon (even though it was in Dutch and he only speaks english – science is science)
We loved the show too, thankfully they did repeat some of it in English on that day! :) Thanks Christine!
Evan Kristine says
This is so cool! When we did a boat trip around Amsterdam this is one of the highlights. Our tourguide said that it is the best place for children and adults (who likes to be a kid again!). I wish I had more time to visit this!
It’s really good fun, but I still think the one in Copenhagen is my favourite! Thanks Evan! (:
Looks like a super fun place to go with kiddos! I don’t have any of my own, but I could see taking them when I do eventually. Great post and tips for visiting!
Thanks Jenn! (:
Interesting place, I’ll surely add it to my list.Thanks!
Thanks Rodrigo! (:
A Patchwork Life says
Sounds great Emma, great tips too – like the sunbathing one and the top floor warning… x
Yes, you might get some interesting discussions otherwise, and need a bit of a breather out on that roof top! :D Thanks T! (:
My two would absolutely love this place!
And I’m snowed under with all the end of the school year activity stuff right now too – it’s mad x x
Thanks Cass! Looking forward to a break in a few days! (: xx
Erica Price says
We love visiting museums like this one and I can see us having a great half day exploring. If we ever get round to our family trip to Amsterdam we will have to visit.
I think you would love it. Thanks Erica! (:
Science museums aren’t my thing but my daughter loves them which is we have been to so many. I would steer clear of the top floor at the moment as those lessons have just started at school and she is not happy about it!
I would steer clear too then! :D
Nayna Kanabar says
I like places that are for kids as they are less boring and the content is more interesting. The museum sounds great.
Thanks Nayna! (:
Fozia S says
Oh wow this place looks absolutely amazing! My girls would love it.
Can’t believe adults were complaining about the kids!
I didn’t hear any complaints on the day but places like trip advisor are full of them, a little unfairly I think! Thanks Fozia! (: