Red Light Secrets – Amsterdam, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura

Red Light Secrets

This museum housed in a former brothel explores the past and present of sex work in Amsterdam. 


Amsterdam is filled with beautiful architecture, long twisting canals, and a rich history. While many tourists come for these draws, some are more interested in the Red Light District and the legal marijuana. The Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution tackles the former, and informs visitors about the lives of sex workers and the history of the district.

Known to locals as De Wallen, the Red Light District is Amsterdam’s oldest district, built around 1385. The district has gained notoriety for its many brothels, and has been controversial as the legality of sex work has ebbed and flowed over time. As of 2000, brothels are legal in the Netherlands and require a permit to do business.

Red Light Secrets is located in a building that was once a brothel. Most of the interior structure has been kept as it was, with some extra rooms added to show various types of accommodations. In the two-story building, there are rooms that explore different types of sex work and an audio tour from a Russian woman named Inga, who worked in Amsterdam’s sex industry for 15 years, however, she saw herself more as a sex therapist.

The museum’s mission is to educate people about sex work in Amsterdam, including the measures that have been taken to prevent human trafficking. It is filled with stories from sex workers about their lives and how they got into the industry. Their goal is to help demystify sex work, and show that sex workers are people who should be treated with dignity and respect.

Know Before You Go

You need to be 16+ to enter this museum. While most of the images are PG and you won't see anything beyond the occasional pair of breasts, the audio tour does include some relatively graphic descriptions. A ticket to the museum is €14.50 for adults and €12.50 for students. Open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight, and the last admission is 30 minutes before closing time.

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January 7, 2020

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