Museum Rotterdam – The Whole City in One Place
An easy 10-minute walk southeast of Rotterdam Central Station, Museum Rotterdam is a home run for kids! It took us over a year of living less than 20 kilometers from the museum to finally make it there. The Maritime Museum in Rotterdam tends to get all the accolades because it has a kids play area on the top floor, is chock full of ships and kids can touch nearly everything. However, for those who have seen the Maritime Museum, consider spending an hour at Museum Rotterdam (Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun 11-5, Closed Mon. Member, Museumkaart Program. Otherwise, 7.50 Euros).
Museum Rotterdam is small, but it has three distinct exhibit areas. The first is a historical look at the region, spanning from 10,000 years BC until present. This section of the museum is quirky because the artifacts (bones, coins, ship models, paintings, WWII items) are all inside shipping containers. This was done because the museum was not purpose-built; it does not have proper climate control. Therefore, the shipping containers can be climate controlled to protect the artifacts. My 4-year-old’s favorite artifact in this area was a leather child’s shoe filled with silver coins. This item was found during the construction of the museum building (the Timmerhuis) and historians aren’t sure of its origins. In this area of the museum, exhibits are carefully placed – there are lots of things at toddler-eye-level to look at.
The second region is titled “Rotterdammers and Their City.” This area of changing exhibits showcases the stories of people from the area. The best display in this exhibit contained a 3D printer printing names in wax. As each name is printed, you can scrape the name off the machine and place it into a metallic structure. Kids loved watching the printer and using the scraper tool. The names represent the local people.
Tucked behind this exhibit is Kids Town, which has three kid-focused things to do. There is an art/construction table chock full of project supplies. There is a 360 degree dollhouse kids can go inside and play. Then there is a storybook/model train/building block soft play area. Kids Town looks like it was purpose-built so your children can play while you browse the adjacent exhibits.
Our 4-year-old could have spent two hours playing in the dollhouse, but I encouraged him to see the best aspect of the museum next.
The third region of Museum Rotterdam displays the rebirth of Rotterdam after it was destroyed by Nazi bombs. There is a giant floor model of the city’s reconstruction plan, a cinema area showing footage of the city’s rebuilding and a monument to the reconstruction era (stack of historical objects). Adults and children alike can don a virtual reality headset and have a look around the city too.
Museum Rotterdam shares its space with THOMS Restaurant, which is a fantastic lunch or dinner option to accompany your visit to the museum. If you prefer leaving the area, we suggest the Markthal which is an 8-minute walk. There you’ll find stalls offering any type of food you could ever wish for.
Museum Rotterdam is a neat museum but it is small. Budget about one hour, take the kids and combine the outing with a meal at THOMS or the Markthal. For a big day in Rotterdam, combine Museum Rotterdam with the Maritime Museum or an architectural walking tour. All of the sites listed here are within an easy walk from Rotterdam Central Station and all are linked by the tram network.
Oh, and if you figure out why someone buried a shoe filled with silver coins a few hundred years ago, be sure to let us know!