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The Amsterdam Tattoo Museum: Not for the Fainthearted

Henk Schiffmacher is often referred to as the "Dutch king of tattoos". He opened a museum in Amsterdam to display his personal collection of tattoo-related objects. As a lover and owner of several tattoos, I wanted to visit his museum.

Photo by frau_inga

On a lovely day in March, my husband and I decided we wanted to take a trip to Amsterdam. We had read about the opening of a new tattoo museum. Since we both like and have tattoos, we decided to visit the museum. It’s set in a beautiful old building at Plantage Middenlaan in Amsterdam. We paid the entrance fee and went in to be surprised by all the interesting objects that were present.

The museum houses the personal collection of Henk Schiffmacher, one of the most famous tattoo artists of the Netherlands. Through the years he collected a lot of stuff, all with a connection to tattooing and other body modifications. The objects come from all over the world. They give great insight into the habits and customs of many tribes in Africa and Asia. The whole ground floor is dedicated to the older tattoo traditions, cultures, and arts.

The first floor is dedicated to the more modern tattoo traditions. Schiffmacher displays a large collection of homemade tattoo guns. This floor also displays the arts and customs of European and North American tattoos. Examples are the classical sailor tattoos, but also Russian prison tattoos and freakshows with heavily tattooed women that traveled around in the twenties of the last century.

Besides the exhibition of the collection, there’s more stuff to do. The museum hosts a shop where you can buy books, t-shirts, and other tattoo-related articles. On the top floor is a restaurant where you can have a simple, but delicious lunch. The restaurant staff are people who are given a chance to get back on track after a tough life. So, having lunch at the museum means also helping a good cause. The restaurant also displays Henk’s personal collection of pop and rock memorabilia. He is friends with a lot of pop and rock stars he’s tattooed over the years like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And last but not the least: you can get tattooed at the museum (by appointment only). The museum often has famous tattoo artists from all over the world to do guest spots. Make sure you check the museum calender and get some ink!

You can find more information about the museum and the guest tattoo artists on the website.

And if you make sure you’re at the museum early, you’ll have time to visit the Artis Zoo afterwards because that is just around the corner!

written by frau_inga and translated by frau_inga

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The original version of this article is written in: Nederlands.