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How to spend time at the airport without surfing the net or shopping duty-free? What to do if we’re facing a sleepless night or an unexpectedly long wait? A decreasing number of passengers read books, although it’s one of the ways to travel both more slowly and meaningfully. We can bring books from home, and buy them at the airport, but in the world, there are even airports with a library – and even a real museum.
Travel can be exhausting due to long waits at the airport, whether it’s flight delays, layovers, or cancellations. However, the time spent waiting can be more meaningfully shortened. Many airports have well-stocked bookstores with magazines, comics, and books in local languages, as well as a decent selection of fiction and travel guides in English. Most airports are adorned with photographs, paintings, sculptures, and art installations. But Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam offers even more – a small library and a museum, an „outpost“ of the renowned Rijksmuseum, with free admission.
The library at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is the world’s first airport library, setting an excellent model that other airports worldwide have started to follow. Passengers at Schiphol have hailed this library as one of the best places at the airport, which already features many restaurants, duty-free shops, and specialty stores. The library is located on Holland Boulevard, after security checks, in the area where passengers wait for their next flight.
In this library, where various presentations about Dutch culture are displayed on digital screens, you can find books by Dutch authors or those related to the history and culture of the country. The collection includes books on history, children’s literature, museum catalogs, and publications on Dutch art, design, and architecture. The collection is intended for on-site reading, and after reading, books are returned to the shelves. There are also two boxes where passengers can leave their books and take those left by others to carry with them.
Although you take books from the library shelves and return them after reading, this airport library operates thanks to several retired so-called ‘airport librarians,’ one of whom is particularly popular for his tweets about books.
If your final destination is not Amsterdam and you don’t have time between two flights to visit one of the museums in Amsterdam, you can still view a selection of famous Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum Schiphol, also located on Holland Boulevard like the library.
Opened in December 2002, the Rijksmuseum at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was the first-ever airport museum. Entrance to the airport outpost of the most famous Dutch museum is free 24 hours a day, and the exhibitions are updated every few months. Currently, you can view „Setting the Table“ – eight paintings from the Rijksmuseum collection that explore Dutch dining culture in the 17th century. These paintings by artists such as Gabriël Metsu, Abraham Mignon, and Cornelis Dusart focus on Dutch everyday life, questioning what people ate, where they bought food, where that food came from, and more.
An integral part of this airport museum is a shop with museum souvenirs that are sold in the famous museum in Amsterdam as well.