The Wereldmuseum is home to some of Rotterdam’s most important historical treasures. Through its collection of more than 1,800 artefacts from around the world, visitors can take a fascinating journey through distant civilizations and see the world through the eyes of Rotterdam’s maritime merchants and explorers.
- Discover historical treasures from around the world, collected over 160 years of global exploration.
- Trace Rotterdam’s colonial past and see how its international outlook was shaped.
- Take a stroll along the city’s famous central harbor and see the nearby Erasmus Bridge.
About the Wereldmuseum
Located in an elegant 19th-century building on the River Maas, the Wereldmuseum is a window to the world in the heart of Rotterdam. The museum opened its doors in 1885 in response to increasing demand created by Dutch trade relations abroad, growing colonialism, increased missionary activity, and the newly emerging science of ethnology. The new Wereldmuseum – then known as the Museum for Geography and Ethnology – provided Rotterdam’s citizens with a rare glimpse into other, rarely seen cultures through its dazzling showcase of priceless objects spanning 2,000 years of global history.
Today, the rich historical collection is just as awe-inspiring as ever, while the museum itself tells its own story – the story of Rotterdam’s colonial history, and the wanderlust and global outlook that shaped the internationally minded and multicultural city we know today. The museum’s waterfront location facing the city’s famous Wilhelminakade pier is a fitting testament to its place in in Rotterdam’s seafaring history, and offers some spectacular views of the River Maas and the swan-like Erasmus Bridge.
What to see at the Wereldmuseum
Some 1,800 objects are on display in the museum, reflecting 160 years of Rotterdam’s colonial exploration. Collected from the five continents of the globe and a vast variety of civilizations both ancient and modern, each artefact has a unique story to tell about the people that produced it, and Rotterdam’s relationship with that culture. From Tibet and Japan across Oceana, Africa and the Americas, the museum showcases all aspects of life in different cultures around the world, from clothing to cooking utensils, weaponry, transport and priceless art.
Don’t miss the museum’s large collection of Buddhist art, which is on long-term loan from the Bohimanda Foundation and makes the museum one of the world leaders in the field. Alongside the permanent collection, the Wereldmuseum curates regular exhibitions that shine a spotlight on a particular part of the world or aspect of ethnographic history.
Admission to the Wereldmuseum includes an audio tour. Free guided tours are available during weekends.
We recommend: After you’ve soaked up all that the collection has to offer, enjoy lunch in the museum’s waterfront café and a stroll along the harbor to the famous Erasmus bridge – beneath which you can take a harbor tour with Spido. Or continue your cultural exploration at more of Rotterdam’s museums.