Things to do in the Jordaan
Things to do in the Jordaan
The Jordaan district started its life as the workers’ district when Amsterdam expanded in 1614. So it’s been around a while! Today it’s pretty mixed neighbourhood, there are highly gentrified canals like the Egelantiersgracht but there is a huge amount of social housing in the tucked away streets as well. Despite Airbnb and the large rise in tourism in Amsterdam, the Jordaan district remains a functioning neighbourhood.
What I have always cherished about Amsterdam is that it is poossible to create a little niche for yourself, a corner where you can do something that you love and that suits you and it’s possible to get by that way. You don’t have to take over the world, or be corporate, Amsterdam provides the gentle embrace that enables this kind of small scale quality of life, if you take a chance, or have a passion and make it happen. Nowhere represents this better than the Jordaan. I’ve done this as a tour guide, I love it, I’m good at it, and I have a tiny little, company and, hold thumbs, it’s keeping my life funded. Here are some similar stories.
Here is a collection of interesting shops or museums that are gems of the Jordaan, hiding in plain sight!
At Westerstraat 106 you will find the Pianola Museum which has a large collection of player pianos, those are pianos that play themselves! The most famous brand is ‘Pianola’. I as therea t opening time, 1pm on a Satiurday in January and booked 3 places on the first tour. They show you around in groups and the toour took about 45 minutes. It was conducted by an older gentleman who told us the history of the building and how the collection started and then played 5 different pianolas for us in the order they were invented, more or less. The first was a contraption that is pushed up to a keyboard of a regular piano and operated by pedals. We all got the chance to play it by pushing the pedals! Here’s a video of that taken during our visit.
The following painos were later versions with electric pedal power and we heard 5 short pieces of music in all. They have an vast selevtion of music scrolls as well as an exhibition section of old instruments and paraphenalia that you can see after the guided tour section. It really is a quirky specialised museum run for love not money. It only costs 9 euros to go in for aduls and less for studens and children and this includes the guided tour. They are only open 3 days a week, Frday and Saturday from 1pm to 5pm and on Sundays from 1pm until 4pm.
There are also love music performacnes where the paios are played without scrolls. Check out their websiite to see what’s on.
The Mouse Mansion – Het Muizenhuis
This shop represents everything wonderful about Amsterdam. The Mouse Mansion was created by Karina Schaapman who combined a love of storytelling and writing with a love of arts and crafts. She writes a story and then the set is built slowly using cardboard boxes, egg cartons, papier-mache, lollypop sticks, the list is almost endless. Once the house / set is built and decorated, the scenes of the story are created with the mouse characters placed in th set and photographed with text added later and the photos become the story books. The stories follow the adventures of two mice, Sam and Julia, and you can now follow them in 27 langugages!
Karina and her four adult children run the shop and business and one of them is always in the shop, so if you have any quesitons about how / where / what / why / when, they will know the answer!
The shop is open Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 6pm.
You can find them at Eerste Tuindwarsstraat 1
Electric Ladyland is a private collection of all things that glow in the dar and more. It has been patiently and lovingly compiled by Nick who shows groups around from Wednesdays to Saturdays in the afternoon. You don’t just turn up, you need to book online and pay when you arrive. The cost is 5 euros per person.
The exhibition is in a basement room down some very steep stairs and half of the room is made up of a glow in the dark sculpture that you can stand or sit in with peep holes and mirrors and many things to interst your eye! Of course it is great for photos too, see above.
The other half of the room has a few cabinets with diffeerent fluorescent products, from the first paints to the most modern pmaterials. Nick explains the various objects in a ssoft spoken voice. I wasa concerned that I couldn’t hear as I was behind a few people but he repeats the info so no need to all crowd in at once. There were about 10 people there I think. Nick demonstrated how different objects are visible under different types of ultra-violet light and demonstrates this too. He shows naturally occurring stones and there colours under the different frequencies of light.
He has a collection of posters and the like, yes, of course Jimi Hendricks too. What I liked the most was a collection of pictures hanging on the wall that were painstakingly made by gluing tiny shards of stone together making pictures that are only visible then under ultra-violet light.
Joost Moes is a real Amsterdammer who has spent most of his life living in the Jordaan district. He has a passion for Thailand and over the last 3 decades, that has been his second home. He has assembled the Netherland’s most beautiful and extensive collection of buddha statues, accoutrements and associated furniture from numerous Buddist countries in Asia and these are all displayed in his Jordaan gallery. He adds to and sells items from the collection on an ongoing basis. You can view it by appintment and get an idea of the contents by visiting Buddhasearch.com
There is a great market on Saturdays, I think the Best Saturday Market in Amstrdam, so good it gets its own blog post. And if you go to the market then do try the apple pie from ‘Winkel’ on the corner, the cafe with the green & white awning, it’s great delicious. Theree is also a flea market in the same place on Monday morning.