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Victoria’s Not the Only One with a Secret, According to New Amsterdam Museum

By Amsterdam City Tours
Victoria’s Not the Only One with a Secret, According to New Amsterdam Museum

Michela Simoncini / Flickr Creative Commons

Amsterdam made the news worldwide in February of this year when it opened a brand new and controversial museum.

Red Light Secrets: Museum of Prostitution is the first museum in the world dedicated to the oldest profession.

Housed in a former brothel on Oudezijds Achterburgwal in the heart of Amsterdam’s notorious Red Light District, the museum serves to open visitors’ eyes to how the sex industry operates.

A hologram of a prostitute beckons passersby into the museum. Inside is a variety of displays showcasing the history and evolution of sex work.

Working alongside former escort Ilonka Stakelborough, Red Light Secrets has recreated a brothel luxury suite and a workroom to view.

There are also displays depicting BDSM practices, 'tools of the trade' (sex toys, cleansers, condoms, and lubricants), and centuries' worth of prostitute fashion. Films are shown throughout the museum showing the women behind the windows - many of whom have families - living their everyday lives. And you can share your own sex secrets in the exhibition area known as The Confession.

It's the red-lit window where the brave can sit as projected images of actors ogle them as they pass seems to leave the biggest impression on visitors. The tour ends at a wall filled with quotes from the working women themselves.

The museum strives to show all aspects of prostitution, from the sad realities of the women forced into prostitution to the women who choose it voluntarily as their profession.

Though the Netherlands has displayed a tolerance for it since the 16th century, prostitution wasn't legalized here until 2000. Some 7,000 people work in the industry in Amsterdam. Roughly 75% of the women hail from the poorer countries in Eastern Europe.

The Red Light District, with more than 290 windows, is one of the most popular destination in the Dutch capital.

To complete your education, swing by the nearby Sex Museum and Museum of Erotica. Or join us for our Dark Amsterdam walking tour, where you can explore the Red Light District and see a bit of Zeedijk in addition to taking in the Museum of Prostitution.

You'll be well-versed in prostitution without ever having to actually visit a prostitute! (Although, if you did decide to try it first-hand, according to the Red Light Secrets website, it would only take about 10 minutes of your time, tops.)

Red Light Secrets: The Museum of Prostitution opened 6 February 2014. It's open from noon till midnight Monday through Sunday.

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