NEMO (Amsterdam): Science Center for Kids (Review)

NEMO in Amsterdam is the biggest science center in the Netherlands. It was founded to seduce the (pre-teen) young to choose a career in science.

That's why NEMO uses a lot of sparkly colors and bright lights, children can do a lot themselves, and science is presented using themes like sex, kissing, pop music and computer games.

The motto of the center is "forbidden not to touch". See that science isn't boring?

This author visited NEMO in Amsterdam recently with his wife and 6 year old, and the center has some strong sides.

Nemo science center, Amsterdam

Electricity in NEMO

The huge bubble blowing installation - where a kid is 'locked up' inside a bubble - is fun. The big anthropological display with photos of people from all around the world, shows very graphically that some dressing and social norms are indeed very much tied to time and place. The chemistry corner, where kids can do various experiments guided by adults, was quite entertaining too.

Digital Humans?

However, a majority of installations did not really convince nor entertain me or my kid. They were, well, boring. Also, a kind of crass materialism flies in the visitor's face at set times. Does NEMO really believe that the human body can be "digitalized", so you can email him and he pops up at the other end of a glass fiber cable?

Also, this author is rather at peace with the fact that his 6 year old hasn't figured out the mechanics of sex yet and one can wonder why NEMO tries so hard to spoil the fun - especially since it targets pre-teens. It's so 2008 to think only sex can draw the attention of the young.

Impressive Building

Nemo science center, Amsterdam

NEMO building with the ship 'Amsterdam'

Back to the positive, the NEMO building is very impressive from the outside. You can't miss the huge green copper building, built in the form of a ship 'coming up' over the IJ tunnel.

You can step outside from the cafeteria at almost the highest point, where you have a terrific view over the city. It's also possible to reach this plateau from the stairs outside, without having to buy a ticket.

Also, don't forget to step inside NEMO's shop. It sells all kinds of science gadgets for kids, including do-it-yourself building and experimentation packages, at rather low prices. They make for perfect original birthday presents.

Where is NEMO in Amsterdam?

NEMO is at walking distance of Amsterdam Central Station. While it's possible to reach NEMO by car - there are a few parking garages in it's vicinity - taking the tram, metro or train is by far the easiest way. There's a special walking path from Amsterdam Central Station to NEMO.

For ticket prices and opening hours, both of the science center and the ship, see NEMO's website at (it has an English section).

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