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Amsterdam Gets Own Tattoo Museum

By Amsterdam City Tours

Amsterdam gets own Tattoo MuseumAcross the board, tattoos have grown from being a frowned upon, pagan technique to a full-fledged art form. And no one knows that better than Amsterdam’s “king of tattooing” Henk Schiffmacher.

Known for inking famous celebrities including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Anouk, Robbie Williams and Kurt Cobain, Schiffmacher is a tattoo guru in this Dutch capital. But beyond his abilities to deliver in ink, he is also a notorious collector. It is his habit that produced the more than 40,000 objects that make up the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum which officially opened its doors on 5  November.

Amsterdam gets own Tattoo Museum

Among Shiffmacher’s prized collection of sketches, photographs, tools, shop signs and human skin preserved in formaldehyde is a stunning documentation of the history of tattooing. Everything from the African art to the Native American and Maori traditions are outlined on the museum’s main floor, in addition to examples of scarification, Indian henna and Japanese ceremonial tattoos.

But that is not all that is on show at the museum, which spans two adjoining nineteenth century brownstones in the eastern part of Amsterdam. There are also six tattoo parlours, a restaurant and research library. It is in the later that Schiffmacher hopes will generate a new image of tattooing.

According to him, ethnographers, anthropologists and the general public has viewed tattooing as unflattering or pagan. “I think we have a right to make up for that era,” he told reporters for Time Out Amsterdam. ”I’d like to think of this place as an institute rather than as a museum, or even as a church of a lifestyle.”

One major way Schiffmacher is doing this is by digitalising its exhibition material to make it available worldwide on its website. Already, 24,000 items are on view online.

But there is something about tattoos that needs to be witnessed live and in person. Whether it be a ritual work of art, like those tattoos from the earliest moments of history, or the intricate works of color and design from modern times, tattoos are a part of life and of human history. What better way to recognize their importance than at a museum as comprehensive and engaging as the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum.

Amsterdam gets own Tattoo Museum

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