The Allard Pierson Museum is situated on Oude Turfmarkt, opposite Rokin and not far from Muntplein. This archaeological museum, which is part of the University of Amsterdam, features exhibitions on ancient civilizations such as the Persians, Greeks and Romans. The museum is housed in an imposing building that suits its function. The building was, however, originally a bank. It was built in 1869 as the headquarters of De Nederlandsche Bank, which remained in the building until 1968 when it moved to its current location in Frederiksplein.
De Nederlandsche Bank was founded by King Willem I in 1814 and was housed in a number of buildings on Oude Turfmarkt. Because this accommodation soon proved to be unsuitable, in around 1865 the Amsterdam architect W.A.Froger (1812-1883) was commissioned to design a new building. Froger had trained in Breda as a military architect and engineer. He was an exceptional and many-sided man who is regarded as the driving force behind the construction of the North Sea Canal.
Difference in colour
The bank building Froger designed on Oude Turfmarkt has two storeys, a basement and an attic. The symmetrical neo-Classical façade is provided with projecting sections – so-called risalits – in the middle and at both ends. The entrance is situated in the left-hand corner risalit. A striking feature is the difference in colour between the lower and upper halves of the building. This has to do with the use of different types of sandstone. The superior Bremer or Oberkirchner sandstone was scarce and so the upper section of the façade had to be executed in the inferior Bentheimer sandstone. In the pediment, the triangular frame in the middle, is a representation of two women with a sailing ship and a locomotive. This is virtually the only ornamentation in the sober façade.
When De Nederlandsche Bank relocated, the building came into the possession of the University of Amsterdam, who made it available to the Allard Pierson Museum. In collaboration with the artist Dick Elffers and the architect Jaap Schipper, the building was converted to its new use. The museum was opened in 1976 by Princess Beatrix. The building is currently undergoing a phased redevelopment but remains open to the public.