Hermitage Amsterdam

History of the project

In the early 1990s Professor Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg was considering the possibility of having satellites of the museum in the West. The Nieuwe Kerk and the Hermitage had already established a strong relationship through the organisation of major exhibitions, and Ernst Veen, director of the Nieuwe Kerk, suggested that Amsterdam would be the ideal location for a branch of the Russian museum, given the historical links between the two cities over the past 300 years.

At the same time the Nursing-home Amstelhof Foundation decided that the building no longer met modern nursing standards. The Foundation United Amstel Houses (an umbrella organisation of 23 institutions in the Amsterdam region) which Amstelhof is part of decided to build new nursing homes and to make the Amstelhof available exclusively for cultural purposes.

In 1988 Ernst Veen was awarded a prize for economic development in Amsterdam, the IJ Prize, and the money that came with it was used to fund a feasibility study for a Hermitage branch in Amsterdam. The results of this study proved favourable so the Stichting Hermitage aan de Amstel was founded. Because of the future destination of the Amstelhof as Hermitage Amsterdam museum (expected to be completed in 2007) the Reformed Congregation transferred the property to the City of Amsterdam in 1999.

In 2000 a part of the complex, the Neerlandia building on Nieuwe Herengracht, was offered to the Hermitage Amsterdam because it was regarded as unsuitable for nursing care. It was decided to open in this building at the end of February 2004 as the first phase with small exhibitions and a small educational element, the two cornerstones of the Hermitage Amsterdam.

History of the building

(based on an article by Bob van den Boogert published in 'Binnenstad')

The Amstelhof building is one of the finest examples of monumental classicist architecture in Amsterdam. It was built in 1681-1683 as a home for the elderly in need of care (initially only for women, but also for men from 1719) and has remained in use as a nursing home to this day. After the Reformed Congregation had built an orphanage on Zwanenburgwal in 1656, the city government gave it a large piece of land on which to build a home for old women. The site was bounded by the River Amstel, Nieuwe Herengracht, Weesperstraat and Nieuwe Keizersgracht.

Thanks to a substantial legacy, it proved possible to complete the monumental building on the Amstel in less than two years. It was probably designed by the city architect Hans Petersom and comprised a basement, two floors and an attic and is laid out as a square around a spacious courtyard that was originally intended to be a bleaching ground. This is flanked by two narrow courtyards which were covered and built over in the 19th century, a situation that was made permanent during major renovations in the 1970s.

The two stone gates in the façade were once the entrances to the complex. The decorated door with steps in the middle of the façade has a purely aesthetic function. It opened on to the middle of the dining room or chapel directly behind the façade. In the 18th century a pulpit was even placed in front of this door to conceal it. Parts of the old interior survive only in the basement, among them the 18th-century kitchen (restored in 1979) with a deep fireplace and gigantic cooking pots with brick surrounds in which the food for about 700 residents was prepared.

After various renovations in the 19th and 20th centuries, little is left of the original interior layout of Amstelhof. At the time it was revolutionary: the old ladies were housed in rooms for four instead of in the normal dormitories, a great improvement in privacy and hygiene. The men had to make do with a dormitory; it was located in the basement at the back of the complex and was known tellingly as 'the pit'.

To offer married couples accommodation, the Reformed Congregation built the stately Corvershof on Nieuwe Herengracht in 1723 (it has recently been beautifully restored). Because of a shortage of space, in 1888 an extension was added to this facility between Corvershof and Amstelhof, the Neerlandia building at 14 Nieuwe Herengracht. The 1888 building has been completely stripped on the inside and refurbished for its new use as a museum. No changes will be made to the façade. The design for the interior is by Hubert-Jan Henket, who was responsible for the extension to the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, and Wim Crouwel, the well-known designer and former director of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.

It is a modern museum interior which meets current standards with regard to climate control and public facilities. On the ground floor there is a museum shop and a café flanking the entrance. The first and second floors each have three exhibition galleries with a total floor space of 500 square metres. In the attic there will be a large educational studio for children. This will be a foretaste of the Neerlandia building's future function within the Hermitage concept, namely that of a Children's Hermitage.

Funding

The financing of the renovation costs of the whole project, €39 million, is virtually secured. The Bank Giro Loterij, the Province of North Holland, the City of Amsterdam and the W.E. Jansen Fund have made available three quarters of the amount required. The first phase, the Neerlandia building, will cost 10% of the total amount, nearly €4 million. The operating costs will be covered by 50% income from ticket sales and 50% income from sponsorship.

THE BOARD OF FOUNDATION HERMITAGE ON THE AMSTEL
prof. dr. Mikhail B. Piotrovsky, chairman
mr. Theo R. Bremer, vice-chairman
Henk B. van der Veen, treasurer
drs. Hans F. Dijkstal, secretary

MANAGING DIRECTOR
Ernst W. Veen

ADVISORY COUNCIL
prof. Wim H. Crouwel
prof. dr. Henk W. van Os
prof. dr. Jan Fontein
dr. Timothy Clifford

SPONSOR ADVISORY COMMITTEE
prof. mr. Charles Gielen
mr. Kees J.A. van Lede
jhr. mr. Hector de Beaufort
mr. Willem O. Baron Bentinck
dr. Tom van Dijkman

Opening hours

Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed on April 26 and December 25

© State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located on Amstel 51, Amsterdam

More information:
+31 (0)20 530 74 88

More information online ticketing:
+31 (0)20 530 87 55