Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum Amsterdam
It’s not surprising that Amsterdam is home to a museum of Hash, Marijuana and Hemp, given its generally tolerant policy toward soft drugs. You’d think, given the somewhat subversive subject, that it would be entertaining to visit.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This will not affect your price.
The main part of the museum (hash and marijuana)
The main part of the museum inhabits the ground floor of two attached row houses: two shopfronts, in other words. It is packed with exhibits, but not particularly well-presented. The rooms are brightly-lit, and the space is filled for the most part with glass-fronted display cases. The glass reflects the light, making it hard at times to see what’s inside the cases, especially toward the back of the cabinet.
Inside the cases, the items are crowded together, jumbled, unlabeled. One shows pipes and other pot-smoking tools. Another contains a collection of vintage anti-marijuana propaganda: books, pamphlets and so on. Antique medicinal bottles showing cannabis as the active ingredient are assembled in another cabinet, while another contains medicines meant for veterinary purposes. And so on. It looks like someone’s personal collection that outgrew the available shelving in their attic.
Any remaining wall space that’s not blocked by glass-fronted cabinets is packed with framed photos, drawings and lithographs: botanical, historical, propaganda (for and against) and so on, very few with labels, and many too high up to see well. Nothing is presented interactively, unless you count a few videos.
The second storefront, containing the medical displays, smells slightly of marijuana: four plants grow there, in a brightly-lit room, glassed-in, I presume, to prevent customers from stealing any.
I’m not saying there isn’t plenty to learn here. The audio tour, included in the €9 admission fee, gives plenty of information about many of the items on display. The problem is that it contains an overwhelming amount of information and I, with my usual lack of patience, could not listen to the whole thing at each stop.
You might also enjoy these other articles from my series on small Amsterdam museums:
- Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution
- Body Worlds: Museum or Freak Show?
- Is the Erotic Museum in Amsterdam erotic? A review
The museum “gallery” (hemp)
The admission price includes a “gallery” in another storefront half a block away, devoted specifically to hemp and its uses. In other words, despite being somewhat better laid out and more artfully lit, it’s even duller than the storefronts devoted to hash and marijuana.
Here you can learn about the industrial uses of hemp and objects made from hemp, with explanations of how hemp is used for making ropes, reinforcing cars, and so on, emphasizing how strong it is. In this “gallery” some of the items are not actually behind glass: a loom, for example, and a big piece of hemp rope. If possible, it was even less interesting than the first part of the museum. Yawn.
Perhaps when I was a teenager I would have found this museum titillating: a hint of the forbidden, especially seeing those live plants openly displayed. I guess the problem is that marijuana and hash are not really forbidden in the Netherlands: “coffee shops,” where marijuana is freely available, are everywhere. When something that was once forbidden is allowed, it just isn’t exciting anymore.
Would I recommend the Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum? If you’re into hash and marijuana and have a lot more patience than I do, sure. You could learn a lot here: about hash and pot themselves, of course, but also about the arguments for and against legalization, the different ways these drugs have been viewed throughout history, the “war on drugs,” and so on.
If you’ve come for a thrill, though, don’t bother. Instead, go to one of the coffee shops in the neighborhood and partake of some yourself. It will be far more entertaining.
If you decide to go, click on this link to order your tickets.
Visiting the Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum in Amsterdam
Getting there: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 148, in the center of the old historic district. It will take about 10-15 minutes to walk there from Amsterdam Central Station: about one kilometer. To take public transportation, take the 51 metro to Nieuwmarkt and walk for about 4 minutes from there. Open daily 10:00-22:00. Admission: €9/$10. Buy tickets through this link.
I saw a news report a couple of months ago that reported that marijuana use among teens has declined significantly in Colorado since they legalized it there.
I’m not at all surprised. Drug use is lower in the Netherlands than the US. The same principle shows in statistics about teenage sex: in the US, it’s essentially forbidden and they have a very high teen pregnancy rate. Here teen sex is more open and accepted and the average age for having sex for the first time is actually later than the US, and the teen pregnancy rate is extremely low.
hysterical! Not sure why you’d go to a hash, etc. museum – clearly meant for backpackers who want a giggle while they pretend to be historical. I’ve heard lots about the medicinal uses of hemp – I’ve had stomach issues in the past and the alternative therapist suggested adding hemp to my diet. Decided I’d rather give up wheat than chew on rope 🙂
Haha! I suppose I thought it would be an interesting addition to my series on small Amsterdam museums. Well, it was an addition to the series; just not interesting!
Seems quite interesting actually … there is an intellectual side to the subject, as subject matter around marijuana doesn’t have to be lurid as we’ve all become accustomed.
I guess I just don’t have the patience or focus to take in the information when it’s offered in such a dry form. I suppose the whole point is to normalize it, so maybe the fact that I was bored means they’ve succeeded!
A museum for marijuana. Cool..haven’t heard of this before.
Legalizing Marijuana is still an issue being discussed in many countries. I agree that when something forbidden is allowed, it would not be exciting anymore. We should be open minded on the benefits of this plant.
Any city is bound to have a tourist trap, so I am sure Amsterdam is no different. While I don’t like being ripped off when I travel, I can’t say that I like to go as cheap as possible. I have some comfort expectations when I travel and I am sure I would have wanted to check this little museum out. Definitely something cool to loo at!
I don’t think it’s a tourist trap. I just think it’s not a very good museum. I see from your URL that you have some connection to medical marijuana in Colorado. I think you’d find this museum much more interesting than I did.
I didn’t even know there was a hemp museum so this is really cool to see. I can’t wait to check it out.
From your address it might be of interest to you. It wasn’t to me…
This seems like a pretty interesting museum. There are a lot of uses for hump and marijuana and this is definitely a cool way to showcase it. Thanks for sharing.
You make an interesting point about the forbidden. Many things that loose the barrier are not always attractive as they were once it was up.
Your distinction between the ideal use of the coffee shops vs. the museum is pretty sensible. Now, that the substance is readily available in your location, a museum does not hold the same titillating allure and can now be viewed with an information centered perspective by those interested in the subject itself as well as the history rather than thrills they can find elsewhere.
Thanks for the post I found that quite interesting. Museums can be boring at the best of times, when you were in Amsterdam did you visit a CoffeeShop before going to the museum? 😛 Happy Blogging!
Perhaps I would have liked the museum more if I had!
Thanks for giving us a view inside the history of hash, marijuana and hemp museum. I think this post should be interesting to everyone who loves to study people’s behavior (if they’re not interested in the marijuana and all that themselves) and changes in their actions with it as time progresses forward. So, apart from the elements themselves, we also got to see how human beings interacted with it all.
Except the exhibits don’t really address the effects of marijuana or hash on people, or at least only indirectly.
Like you stated, I think someone who was particularly interested in the history of marijuana and it effects would love to go and experience this. Thanks so much for sharing!
Very interesting! A museum all about cannabis is a very cool concept. Not many people are very educated on the plant. Thanks for sharing!
thank you for sharing this information