Hermitage Amsterdam

Amstel 51
Hans van Heeswijk, Dick de Gunst, Stephanie Haumann
Hans van Heeswijk architecten
interieur Merkx + Girod, landschap Michael van Gessel
Stichting Hermitage aan de Amstel
Bouwbedrijf M.J. de Nijs en Zonen B.V (hoofdaannemer)
Metro 53, stop Waterlooplein
www.hermitage.nl Hermitage Amsterdam – Museum aan de Amstel. Redactie: Natascha Drabbe, Renson van Tilborg.Uitgever: NDCC Publishers, 2009. Dit project is o.m. gepubliceerd in Amsterdamse Architectuur 2009-2010; ARCAM POCKET 23. Klik hier voor meer boeken uit de reeks ’ARCAM POCKET’.

Museum in former Amstelhof

The largest annex of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg is situated on the Amstel, between Nieuwe Herengracht and Nieuwe Keizersgracht. It took two years to transform the monumental ‘Amstelhof’ from a nursing home into a museum.

The home was built in 1681, probably under the direction of the city carpenter Hans van Petersom. At that time, the 102 metre wide façade was the longest in the city. After three hundred years, the building was no longer able to meet modern requirements and the deanery of the Dutch Reformed Congregation decided to relocate to a new site. The building was handed over to Amsterdam city council, on condition that it would be given a cultural function. The seventeenth-century Amstelhof is a national listed monument. The architect Hans van Heeswijk was not allowed to alter the classical symmetrical façade. The layout, garden and interior have, though, been completely transformed.

Visitors to the museum are led through the Ossenport, situated underneath the stairs of the fake entrance on the Amstel, directly into the inner garden courtyard. After the closed impression conveyed by the building’s exterior, this newly created public space comes as a surprise.
Wing nut trees, three old chestnuts and two lawns, surrounded by a natural stone wall, which can also function as seating. A new open and tranquil space has been created in the city centre. The rhythmical, austere style of landscape architect Michael van Gessel gives a foretaste of what is to be found inside the building.
Visitors cross the garden to the entrance foyer, where tickets can be purchased. The museum restaurant and shop can be visited without an entrance ticket and outside the museum’s opening hours. Entrance tickets give access to the Keizervleugel and the Herenvleugel; identical exhibition wings with a two-storey high, glass-roofed central hall, around which is a series of interconnected small galleries.

Only the trustees’ rooms, the church hall and the historical kitchen have been restored to their original state. Van Heeswijk has used stylistic elements of Dutch classicism in the rest of the building, which gives rise to a well-organized, spatial and light whole. The austere contemporary interior, designed by Merkx+Girod architects, is in keeping with this.

Anyone who has visited the Amstelhof in the past knows how sombre and dark it used to be. It makes a very different impression now. It is still sober, but that was the architect’s intention. Visitors are able to focus their attention exclusively on the exhibited objects.