Nemo Science Center – Amsterdam

Oosterdok 2, Amsterdam
Noord-Holland, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 (0)20-531 32 33
closed on: Mondays, and April 27
Museum Type: Science & Technology

Nemo is a science center in Amsterdam and one of the most popular museums in The Netherlands.

Founded in 1923 as the Labour Museum, Nemo (National Center for Science and Technology) is housed since 1997 in a five-story building located in Amsterdam’s Docklands.

The oxidized copper-clad iconic house of NEMO was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano to resemble a ship at anchor in the middle of the old port.

Piano also conceived a constantly-sloped building roof to give people easy access to the museum’s terrace, through a stepped walkway (elevators for disabled people were also added).

Both the building’s shape and structure (made in concrete and steel) were conditioned by, almost tailored around we may say, a large vehicular tunnel the museum sits upon.

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Photo by Martijn de Valk (CC BY-NC 2.0).

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Photo by tim_d


NEMO Science Center, transverse section, drawing courtesy of RPBW

NEMO science center Amsterdam Renzo Piano south elevation

NEMO Science Center, south elevation, drawing courtesy of RPBW

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NEMO, view from the south, photo by Heather McNabb (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Nemo science center Amsterdam night

Night view of Amsterdam’s docklands, photo Steve Hunt (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Unlike other museums designed by Piano, NEMO does not rely much on natural lighting; its windows are mostly small in size and aimed to provide views over the city of Amsterdam, rather than to light the museum’s rooms. The entrance hall and the main exhibition gallery make an exception since both are equipped with large windows, which, along with overlooking the docklands area, generously pour daylight into those spaces.

Exhibition and activities
Nemo is a typical science center that features a large number of “hands-on” exhibits, interactive installations, and learning experiences especially aimed at children, families, and schools.
The museum presents various science-related subjects sorted into – currently eleven – semi-permanent galleries entitled  Miracle of Science, Phenomena, Machine park, Amazing constructions, Water world, The joy of science, Water Power, Teen facts, Laboratory, Journey through the mind, and Smart Technology. The exhibitions feature interactive and multimedia exhibits, 3D reconstructions and models, and a large ensemble of specimens.

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NEMO’s exhibition, installation views, photos by DigiDaan, courtesy of NEMO.

One of the most popular features of the center, the Nemo panoramic roof terrace is an outdoor space, overlooking Amsterdam’s historic center, equipped with seating spaces and fountains, which also features an open-air exhibition, entitled Energetica, composed of installations aimed to demonstrate how energy is conveyed by wind, water, and sunlight.


nemo science center amsterdam energetica exhibition wind

NEMO’s panoramic roof and the “Energetica” exhibition, photos by DigiDaan, courtesy of NEMO.

NEMO also hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, and educational programs.
The museum’s building, fully accessible to people with disabilities, includes two cafes, one situated on the panoramic terrace and open in summer, and another located in the museum’s lobby.

Cover photo by DigiDaan, courtesy of NEMO.

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