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Exhibitions 2009-now

Exhibitions 2009-now

A fascinating journey through the history of art

By 2017, the Heritage Amsterdam had opened more than thirty exhibitions featuring objects from antiquity and highlights from modern art. Below you will find an overview of all of the exhibitions that were held since 2009. If you would like to know more or require more information on the exhibitions, please send an e-mail to pressoffice@hermitage.nl.

At the Russian Court
Palace and Protocol in the 19th Century 

20 June 2009 to 31 January 2010  
705,000 visitors

The regal, festive inaugural exhibition of the Hermitage Amsterdam was dedicated entirely to the Russian court of the nineteenth century. Visitors were transported back to the era of the last six Romanov Tsars who resided in the Winter Palace at the Neva river in St. Petersburg.

This exhibition took up the entire building. The large halls were set up to focus on two important aspects of the lavish lifestyle at court: court protocol and the court ball. In the Audience Room, where protocol was strictly observed, visitors marvelled at formal gowns, court attire, and the famous Romanov throne. The Ballroom invited you to a whirling dance festival, with magnificent costumes and where countless stunning accessories were on display. Next to the large rooms, the display cabinets informed visitors all about St. Petersburg, the Tsars, their family, the ceremonies, and the lavish banquets and balls.

Matisse to Malevich. Pioneers of Modern Art from the Hermitage 

6 March to 17 September 2010
375,000 visitors

The Matisse to Malevich. Pioneers of Modern Art from the Hermitageexhibition was a magnificent display of outstanding works by Matisse, Picasso, Van Dongen, De Vlaminck, Derain, and many of their other contemporaries. 75 paintings were selected for this exhibition from the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, which has one of the world’s finest collections of French paintings from the early twentieth century. In addition to the renowned French Masters, equally celebrated Russian contemporaries such as Malevich and Kandinsky were represented at the exhibition. These artists are seen as the pioneers of Modernism. Almost all of the works exhibited are on permanent display in St. Petersburg. Most originally came from the Moscow collections of Morozov and Shchukin. This was the first time that this extensive collection of avant-garde masterpieces was on display in the Netherlands. The exhibition explored the origins of modern art as an art historical phenomenon, but also looks at the passion of the artists, as they initiated a revolution in art at a crucial moment in art history at the beginning of the last century.

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Photo Jørgen Koopmanschap

The Immortal Alexander the Great
The Myth, the Reality, his Journey, his Legacy  

18 September 2010 to 18 March 2011 
215,000 visitors

No ruler in antiquity appeals to the imagination as much as Alexander the Great (356-323 BC, king from 336 BC). From an early age, he inspired those around him. During his campaigns in the East, Alexander went in search of the origins of Dionysus, who – according to the ancient Greeks – came from the Orient, possibly India. Alexander followed in Dionysus’s footsteps and reached many countries, including Egypt, Syria, Bactria, Persia, India and Mongolia. He founded new capitals wherever he went and named all of them Alexandria, leaving behind a legacy of Greek culture in the form of Hellenism.

Alexander the Great’s name and reputation live on to this day. He was an example to many European, Russian, and Islamic rulers and Alexander’s life and history has been the subject of paintings, tapestries, and decorative art. This exhibition covered all of these aspects with objects from classical antiquity to the modern age, of Western and non-Western origins.

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Photo Jørgen Koopmanschap

Splendour and Glory. Art of the Russian Orthodox Church

19 March to 16 September 2011
111,000 visitors 

 Splendour and Glory was the first exhibition in the Netherlands about the time-honoured spiritual and artistic traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church. More than 300 religious artefacts – icons, fresco fragments, robes, paintings, historical books, and gold and silver objects associated with Christian worship – formed the tangible presentation of this rich and enduring sacred institution. The themes of the exhibition included the Church's Byzantine origins and tradition, ecclesiastical feast days with Pascha (Easter) as the high point of the religious calendar, and the Tsars and their 'private' church. On display for the first time were an imposing iconostasis, exceptional fourteenth-century frescoes from Pskov, and a wealth f magnificent icons from The State Hermitage Museum St. Petersburg and other renowned Russian collections.

Rubens, Van Dyck & Jordaens
Flemish painters from the Hermitage

17 September 2011 to 15 June 2012
230,000 visitors 

This exhibition comprised a stunning selection from the Flemish art collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. With 75 paintings and about 20 drawings, this definitive survey included numerous masterpieces by the three giants of the Antwerp School – Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens – accompanied by the work of well-known contemporaries.

Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) was the special focus of the exhibition, represented by seventeen paintings and many of his drawings. Rubens was a legend in his day, a homo universalis. After all, he was the most accomplished, the most gifted, and the most influential Flemish painter of the seventeenth century. At the same time, he was known as a diplomat and a collector. Both Rubens’s religious and secular works illustrate his unequalled talent. One of his masterpieces is the famous Descent from the Cross (ca 1618), which depicts Christ's suffering with compelling drama. Prior to the exhibition this painting had never before been sent out on loan. 

The exhibition also examined Rubens's influence and followers in detail, devoting particular attention to the elegant and refined portraits of his greatest pupil, Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641). The third great Master of the Flemish school, Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678), did not study with Rubens but was influenced by him. His impressive paintings invite viewers to share in his exuberant Flemishjoie de vivre. Even his history paintings have a Flemish feel. 

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Photo Evert Elzinga

Impressionism: Sensation & Inspiration
Highlights from the Hermitage

16 June 2012 to 27 January 2013
225,000 visitors

At the Impressionism: Sensation & Inspiration exhibition, the Hermitage Amsterdam presented the world-famous Impressionist paintings from the vast collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in their artistic context. Masterpieces by pioneers like Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro were accompanied by the work of other influential French painters from the second half of the nineteenth century, such as Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Léon Gérôme. The exhibition focused on contrasts between artistic movements. Visitors got to see and experience the sensational quality of Impressionism, the movement that heralded a new age. All the paintings, drawings, and sculptures were taken from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. Seldom has such a rich survey of this period been on display in the Netherlands. Transporting The Dance, the enormous canvas painting by Henri Matisse, was a particularly spectacular feat.  

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Photo Evert Elzinga

Vincent. The Van Gogh Museum in the Hermitage Amsterdam

29 September 2012 to 25 April 2013

The Van Gogh Museum allowed the works of Vincent van Gogh from its own collection to be exhibited in a completely new way during their temporary stay at the Hermitage Amsterdam. Around 75 key paintings, a selection of letters, works on paper, and various objects were exhibited and enabled visitors to follow the personal quest of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) to find the core of his artistry. The presentation of Vincent’s work is based on the topics which the artist himself used as a guide for his development. The Van Gogh Museum in the Hermitage Amsterdam. 

Peter the Great. An Inspired Tsar

9 March to 13 September 2013
196,000 visitors

In 2013 the Netherlands, Russia, and the city of Amsterdam celebrated their historic relationship. After all, it was the canal belt of Amsterdam that inspired Peter the Great to build St. Petersburg. The anniversary year was launched with a major exhibition at the Hermitage Amsterdam on Tsar Peter the Great, Russia’s Modernizer. The exhibition was organized as part of the year of Dutch-Russian relations in 2013 and counted many highlights including the opening of the exhibition by Prince Willem-Alexander on 8 March, which was one of his last official acts as Prince of Orange. The general public and the media showed great interest in the visit by the Queen of the Netherlands and the Russian President on 8 April that year, the opening by Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker of the MBO schools exhibition on craftsmanship, the celebration of Peter the Great’s birthday, and the play Zomergasten (Summer Guests) in the courtyard. 

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Photo Evert Elzinga

Russian Atelier on the Amstel. 10 contemporary artists

23 November 2013 to 5 January 2014

On Saturday 23 November the Hermitage Amsterdam launched the exhibition Russian Atelier on the Amstel. 10 contemporary artists. The exhibition, which coincided with the end of the year of Dutch-Russian relations, displayed recent work by ten artists with Russian roots who have been living and working in the Netherlands for many years. Their art addressed various topics like the sometimes nomadic international existence of the modern-day artist, migration, moving between two different worlds, memories of life in Russia, and questions of identity. The work of Andrei Roiter, Slava & Marta, Gluklya, Marina Chernikova, Tatyana Yassievich, Masha Trebukova, Asia Komarova, Irina Popova, and Julia Winter included paintings, photographs, installations, and videos. Also on display were video interviews with all of the artists about their experiences in the Netherlands and the extent to which their memories of their motherland featured in their art.  

 Gauguin, Bonnard, Denis.
A Russian Taste for French Art

14 September 2013 to 28 February 2014
182,000 visitors

Gauguin, Bonnard, and Denis are three great French artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In the years following the breakthrough of Impressionism, they went in search of new artistic paths. The elusive Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) was a shining example for the introverted Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947) and the theoretician Maurice Denis (1870–1943). Bonnard and Denis were briefly united with a few other artists such as Valloton and Vuillars under the name of Les Nabis, after the Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ and formed a small but fascinating group of young artists. Unlike the Impressionists, whose primary aim was to capture the fleeting qualities of natural light, the Nabis emphasized colour, feeling, symbolism, and imagination. Their work was quickly embraced in Paris and in Moscow.

The exhibition’s highlights included a complete reconstruction of Ivan Morozov’s concert hall spectacularly decorated with original panels by Maurice Denis, and the triptych by Pierre BonnardMéditerrannée, which was also created for Morozov’s home. The exhibition also featured a unique, extensive music programme. Concerts were held every week with music by French and Russian composers. 43 concerts were held, featuring compositions from artists like Rachmaninov, Ravel, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, and Prokofiev.  

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Photo Evert Elzinga

Expedition Silk Road. Treasures from the Hermitage

1 March to 5 September 2014

The Expedition Silk Road exhibition transported visitors back to long-lost civilizations along the legendary Silk Road. It featured over 250 objects of rare beauty such as murals, sculptures of Buddha, silk, silver, glass, gold, and terracotta, all of high artistic quality and bearing, that were excavated by Russian expeditions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Visitors retraced the footsteps of the explorers who mapped out the paths of kings and merchants in the early Middle Ages and even those of the first Buddhist monks. Just like the caravans that crossed inhospitable regions centuries ago, passing royal cities, monasteries and oases, visitors travel the trading routes themselves, from west to east or from east to west and discover spectacular antique treasures. One of the exhibition’s many highlights is the mural of a divinity battling predators, which is over nine metres tall and taken from the royal palace at Varakhsha (7th-8thcentury, modern-day Uzbekistan). Never before had this prized work left the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg but after it was restored, thanks to the crowdfunding organized by the Friends of the Hermitage, it was displayed in Amsterdam for over six months. 

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Photo Evert Elzinga

Dining with the Tsars
Fragile Beauty from the Hermitage

6 September 2014 to 1 March 2015
158,000 visitors

The year in which the Hermitage Amsterdam celebrated its fifth anniversary also marked the launch of the five-year exhibition Dining with the Tsars. Fragile Beauty from the Hermitage. Eight magnificent porcelain and creamware tableware sets from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg from leading manufacturers like Meissen, Wedgwood, Sèvres, and Gardner, were exhibited in a setting that recreated the balls and banquets of the Tsar’s court. Visitors imagined they were guests, in possession of a coveted imperial invitation, climbing the steps of the Winter Palace, reviewing the rules of etiquette, and preparing for an official visit. Finally they entered the main hall where the fine porcelain dinnerware is set out in a lavish display.

In December 2014 the Hermitage Amsterdam organized the competition Who can set the most beautiful dinner table in the Netherlands, which had three beautiful winning entries. During this exhibition over 5,100 schoolchildren visited the Hermitage for Children. They took part in a Hermitage School programme and the talent programmes Hermitage Atelier and Hermitage Academie. 

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Photo Evert Elzinga

Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age

As from 29 November 2015

Thirty massive group portraits from the seventeenth century, taken from the collections of the Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum, are brought together for the very first time. These are the ‘brothers and sisters’ of Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Night Watch, and are unique throughout the world. Due to their sheer size, they are seldom put on display. Come see how regents, gunmen, and merchants from different classes, religions, and backgrounds fraternally stand side by side. Rembrandt’s painting The Anatomy Lesson by Dr. Deijman and portraits of gunmen by artists like Govert Flinck and Nicolaes Pickenoy are just some of the highlights of thePortrait Gallery of the Golden Age exhibition. In addition, modern group portraits taken by the photographer Taco Anema depict contemporary Dutch administrative culture.

Together, the images illustrate the quintessential collective citizenship of the Dutch and present a historic reflection for Dutch people. After all, the relationships and interactions of the Dutch in the past continue to influence our modern standards and social interactions. 

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Photo Evert Elzinga

Alexander, Napoleon & Joséphine,
a Story of Friendship, War and Art from the Hermitage  

160,000 visitors

In 2015, as the Battle of Waterloo was commemorated throughout Europe, the Hermitage Amsterdam turned the clock back to the decisive years that preceded Waterloo, the days of Napoleon Bonaparte, and two exceptional and very different contemporaries: Tsar Alexander I, his friend and enemy, and Joséphine, the love of his life. 

More than two hundred magnificent paintings, sculptures, personal possessions, gowns and uniforms, objets d’art, and impressive weapons tell the story of two mighty rulers and a woman with great personality. The central themes are friendship, war, and politics, as well as Joséphine’s great art collection, which included Dutch and Italian masters such as Potter, Van der Werff, Luini, and Canova. The exhibition brought the two men physically close together, with Napoleon’s death mask and a medallion containing a lock of Alexander’s hair. The Hermitage ultimately acquired a significant part of Joséphine’s collection and many of the highlights were on display in the Netherlands for the first time.

Visitors discovered the captivating story of these three illustrious figures. They got to wander around the Chateau Malmaison, experience the hardships of the Russian campaigns and the crossing of the Berezina, and they also got to see Joséphine’s art collection.

The highlights of the programme were the collaboration with Hortus Botanicus, which simultaneously organized the exhibition Joséphine, an empire in the garden, the installation of the Netherlands’ biggest Waterloo model during the commemorations marking 200 years since Waterloo, and Adam Zamoyski’s lecture on his book 1812.  

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Photo Evert Elzinga

Spanish Masters from the Hermitage.
The world of El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo & Goya.

28 November 2015 to 29 May 2016
166,000 visitors and guests

The exhibition Spanish Masters from the Hermitage featured a range of Spanish art from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. It included more than sixty masterpieces and a rich collection of graphic works and applied arts masterpieces. Never before had the Netherlands hosted such a comprehensive survey of Spanish art with work that is rarely represented in Dutch museum collections. On display were masterpieces such as The Apostles Peter and Paul (1587–92) by El Greco, Velázquez’s Portrait of the Count Duke of Olivares (ca 1638), Murillo’s Immaculate Conception (ca 1680) and Goya’s Portrait of the Actress Antonia Zárate (1810–11), and paintings by their pupils and later painters right through to Picasso. Together they tell the story of the rise and glory of Spanish art in the Golden Age, which would continue to influence art into modern times.

The exhibition was opened by Princess Beatrix. It was accompanied by a new, free-of-charge audio tour featuring Spanish music, arranged by DJ Von Rosenthal, that was listened to by over 120,000 visitors. The audio tour gave visitors an added passionate dimension to their experience of the Spanish masterpieces.  

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Photo Evert Elzinga

Outsider Art Museum

As from 16 March 2016

With the arrival of the new Outsider Art Museum, the Hermitage Amsterdam has given a stage to a growing movement in contemporary art. The Outsider Art Museum displays intriguing, unpolished art from people with extraordinary backgrounds. You enter into a completely new world and get taken on the wild rollercoaster ride of artists who sometimes maniacally go about their work. Their work is authentic, controversial, and unconventional, which makes you look at art in a different way.
The Outsider Art Museum regularly puts on different exhibitions likeChina, Dubuffet’s List: Masterpieces from the Prinzhorn Collection, and New Masters. 

Catherine, the Greatest.
Self-polished Diamond of the Hermitage

18 June 2016 to 15 January 2017 
169,000 visitors and guests

Two hundred and fifty years after Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage, the Hermitage Amsterdam presents her life story in a sumptuous exhibition on Europe's longest-reigning empress. Her name has always been surrounded with stories and superlatives, often about her private life and court intrigues. Some of these stories belong to the realm of myth, but others are perfectly true. At the age of fourteen, Catherine (1729-1796) was a German princess who was married off to the Russian Tsar. She later overthrew her husband, Peter III, and claimed the throne for herself. Catherine had ambitious plans to reform the whole empire. Although she encountered setbacks, her achievements were astounding. Catherine had a tremendous passion for art and contributed more than anyone else to the world’s greatest art collection. She was an enlightened despot, corresponding with Voltaire and Diderot. She added a new territory the size of France to her empire. And in all her endeavours, she had a sharp eye for talented people who could help her, such as the Orlov brothers and her most influential lover, Potemkin. She was a diamond of her own making. 
Visitors experienced the life story of Catherine the Great, Europe’s longest-reigning and most inspiring empress. Over three hundred objects from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg made for a lavish exhibition that examined her life and character. One of the highlights was the model of the Great Imperial Crown of the Russian Empire, made from white gold and studded with over 11,000 diamonds.

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Photo Evert Elzinga

1917. Romanovs & Revolution. The End of Monarchy 

4 February - 17 September 2017
210.000 visitors and guests

The exhibition 1917. Romanovs & Revolution, The End of Monarchy, which closed on Sunday 17 September, drew 210,000 visitors, making it one of the most successful ever mounted by the Hermitage Amsterdam since the museum opened its doors in 2009. The exhibition, which had attracted a great deal of advance notice, was opened by Amsterdam’s deputy mayor Kajsa Ollongren on 3 February. It told the dramatic story of the last years of the house of Romanov a century earlier, contrasting the sophistication of St Petersburg and its flourishing arts scene with the growing social unrest in Russia. Visitors could see how Emperor Nicholas II’s personality and his decisions made revolution inevitable and led to the end of 300 years of rule by the Romanov dynasty in Russia. A story brought vividly to life with an extensive display of paintings, applied art, historic documents, films and photos, along with items of clothing and personal belongings of Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra and their five children.

The collection returned to St Petersburg for the exhibition The Winter Palace and the Hermitage in 1917, which will be on display in the State Hermitage Museum from 26 October 2017. The catalogue issued to accompany the exhibition, with a special article by Alexander Münninghoff, was very well reviewed and virtually sold out. This summer saw the second edition of the jazz festival Jazz at the Plantage. A total of 19 well-attended concerts took place in the Hermitage Amsterdam, the Portuguese Synagogue and the Hortus Botanicus.

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