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Background Hermitage Amsterdam

History of the Project

In the early 1990s Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, was exploring the possibility of having satellite museums in the West. The relationship between the Nieuwe Kerk and the Hermitage had developed through the co-organisation of major exhibitions. As a result the director of the Nieuwe Kerk, Ernst Veen, had the idea of opening a branch of the Russian museum in Amsterdam, inspired in part by the tercentenary of the historic links between the two cities.

Around the same time, the Amstelhof nursing home decided that its buildings no longer met the standards required for modern care. A little later the umbrella organisation of 23 institutions in the Amsterdam region, among them Amstelhof, decided to build new accommodation elsewhere. The Parish of the Reformed Congregation, which owned the building, declared that the Amstelhof should have an exclusively cultural function.

Veen came up with the idea of locating the Hermitage branch in Amstelhof. In 1998 he had been awarded the IJ Prize, given for services to the economic development of Amsterdam, and he used the prize money to fund a feasibility study. The results were so promising that the Hermitage on the Amstel Foundation was established the same year. Because of the future change of use, in 1999 the Parish transferred ownership of Amstelhof to the city of Amsterdam. The city subsequently leased it to the Hermitage on the Amstel Foundation for the peppercorn rent of one euro a year.

In 2000, part of the complex, the Neerlandia building on the Nieuwe Herengracht, was declared to be unsuitable for nursing and was offered to the Hermitage on the Amstel Foundation earlier than planned. The Foundation decided to start the first phase of the Hermitage Amsterdam at the end of February 2004, with small exhibitions and small-scale educational activities. From then until January 2009, some 600,000 visitors came to see the 10 exhibitions: Greek Gold, Nicholas & Alexandra, Venezia!, Pilgrim Treasures, Silver, wonders from the east, Collectors in St Petersburg, Persia, Art Nouveau, Images of St Petersburg and Caspar David Friedrich. The first phase of the Hermitage Amsterdam was designed by the architect Hubert Jan Henket and the interior designer Wim Crouwel.

On 20 June 2009 the entire Amstelhof will open as the Hermitage Amsterdam, which will be ten times the size of the Neerlandia building. Hans van Heeswijk Architects of Amsterdam was commissioned to design the second phase in December 2004. In October 2005 Merkx+Girod was chosen as the interior architects. Michael van Gessel was asked to design the Amstelhof garden and the narrow strip of garden on the east side. The architects were given the task of making the 17th-century building suitable to house the complete Hermitage Amsterdam.

History of the Building

(based on an article by Bob van den Boogert 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).

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, probably to a design by the city architect Hans Petersom. It comprised a basement, two floors and an attic and is laid out as a square around a spacious garden that was originally intended to be a bleaching ground. This was flanked by two narrow courtyards which were covered over and built on in the 19th century.

The two stone gates in the façade on the Amstel side were once the entrances to the complex. The decorated door with steps in the middle of the façade has a purely aesthetic function, opening on to the middle of the dining room or chapel directly behind the façade. Parts of the old interior survive only in the basement, including 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 of the Amstelhof. At the time it was revolutionary: the elderly ladies were housed in rooms for four in the wings 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 accommodation to married couples, 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. From June 2009 it will house the Hermitage for Children. It can be reached via the entrance on Nieuwe Herengracht and internally through the Herengracht wing of the Hermitage Amsterdam. The Hermitage for Children will have five workshops for a maximum of 30 children, each with its own style, colour and theme.


The total renovation costs for Amstelhof and Neerlandia are about 40 million euros. Half the operating costs for the new Hermitage Amsterdam will be met by income from sponsorship, and the other half from ticket sales. This approach makes the Hermitage Amsterdam a model of cultural entrepreneurship. The Hermitage Amsterdam has been made possible by the founder BankGiro Loterij, by the subsidising bodies State of the Netherlands, Province of North Holland and City of Amsterdam, by the main sponsors Fortis Bank Nederland and Philips, and by the sponsors Fugro, KPMG, Heineken International, AON Insurance and IBM Nederland BV. VSBfonds is a partner of the Hermitage for Children. With thanks to the W.E. Jansen Fonds, the Stichting Amsterdamse Grachtentuinen and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.

More information:

Press Office
Noepy Testa, Kim van Niftrik
T: +31 (0)20 - 530 87 55
F: +31 (0)20 - 530 87 50

Opening hours

Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed on 27 April (Kingsday)
Open on Christmas Day (25-12) &
1 January 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.

The Hermitage Amsterdam is located on Amstel 51, Amsterdam

Photo Roy Beusker Fotografie

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

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


Hermitage Amsterdam would like to thank:

Main sponsors
Exhibition sponsor
Media partner
Internet partner