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The Tattoo Museum

by Amsterdam.com
​The newest museum in the city that is famous for museums that cater to every type of interest may also be one of strangest museums in all of Europe.

Although Amsterdam already has more than fifty open and active museums to visit, there’s always room for one more in the city that is famous for museums and galleries that cater to every type of interest. The newest museum to open in Amsterdam is the Tattoo Museum that houses a vast collection of rather strange exhibits that are all related to tattoos. The museum’s creator Henk Schiffmacher was once a tattoo artist himself, but now he spends all of his time running his creative venture that includes the museum, a library, a cafe, as well as a research and education center all under one roof in the 19th-century Plantage Middenlaan district of the city.

Schiffmacher hails from Harderwijk in the eastern Netherlands and has gained a worldwide reputation for himself by creating innovative tattoos for modern music celebrities like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain. The first floor of the new museum contains a far reaching collection that includes tribal and ethnographic tattooing paraphernalia, along with early photos of scarification taken from the early colonial days of Africa and the Pacific. The photos show polished skins with elaborate and abstract patterns as well as the primitive tools used to create them. The odd exhibition also includes real specimens of tattooed human flesh in pickling jars.

The second floor of the museum shows off more macabre flesh exhibits with photos of early tattooed ladies from circuses around the world along with images of sailors and other old tattoo-related folk-art items. One of the largest items in the collection is a complete mahogany pub bar that once belonged to the Bristol Tattooing Club in the UK, an organization that is now revered as part of the golden age of tattoo art. Tattoos are usually lost forever when a person dies, however Schiffmacher is dedicated to preserving and cataloging the art, and some people are now beginning to leave their decorated skins to the museum in order to help him preserve physical examples of the tattoo artists' skills.

The top floor of Schiffmacher’s tattoo museum also includes a working tattoo studio where a group of resident tattoo artists work in a variety of styles; and many guest tattoo artists also visit the place on a regular basis. This arrangement allows visitors to get their own tattoo in the studio, and take home living souvenirs of their trip to one of Amsterdam’s strangest museums. The museum is open daily and it also permits children to visit when accompanied by their parents.

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