Investigate a wealth of cultural heritage from every continent and learn about the traditions, art and religions that make human culture so diverse.
The Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology) began in 1816 as a collection of cultural artifacts brought back by collectors from their visits in China and Japan. It has since expanded to include items from Southeast Asia, Australia, North and South America and Africa. Step inside to see some of its more than 200,000 artifacts.
Be impressed by the ancient art and treasures here as you wander through an incredible catalogue of culture from around the world, from North American Indian headdresses and woven jewelry from Papua New Guinea, to Islamic artwork, Indonesian weapons and paintings of Buddhist temples.
Learn about Nkisi Nkondi fetishes used in the Congo to seal promises and settle disputes. Discover how the people of Greenland live, hunt and stay warm in one of the coldest places on earth. Get close to Samurai swords and armor and see if you can name all the Hindu gods from their statues.
The most extensive collections of items, other than those from Japan, are from former Dutch colonies. These collections provide background on the history of colonization fraught with military conflict and the resulting cultural clash.
Old photographs and audiovisual media from around the world give an insight into the history of the ever-changing cultures. Interactive screens in both English and Dutch provide information. Look for the temporary exhibitions that showcase the best of the world’s photographers of culture and put a spotlight on particular geographic regions, traditions and world religions.
Browse the art and photography books in the museum shop or take a break in the café. The museum is open during the day Tuesday to Sunday and is a short walk from Leiden Central Station. There is a moderate entry fee but entry is free with a Netherlands Museum Card (Museumkaart), which can be ordered online.