One thing that, in my opinion, you simply cannot miss out on if you are making a trip to Amsterdam, is a visit to the Hermitage museum. And I’m by far not the only one that thinks so. Since the museum has been opened in 2009 by the Dutch queen Beatrix and the Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, it has been receiving astonishing amounts of visitors. The beautiful expositions are making the Hermitage museum one of the most iconic attractions of Amsterdam, with a lot of people waiting in line.
The Hermitage museum features two permanent expositions, one being about the relation between Russia and the Netherlands, and the other one being about the Amstelhof building itself. Furthermore, the museum also holds a number of temporary expositions. Among others, there has been an exposition of Alexander the Great and an exposition with the biggest collection of paintings in the museum, called “Matisse tot Malevich”.
Het Amstelhof: from care center to museum
The museum is located in “De Amstelhof”. This is a beautiful building which is found at the Amstel on the Waterlooplein. It is the biggest annex of the world-famous Hermitage Museum of Saint Petersburg.
The Diaconie Oude Vrouwen Huys (Diacony old women house), which is the former name of the Amstelhof, was opened in 1683. Back in those days it was the responsibility of the regents to look after the poor and in 1672 they decided it was necessary to build a care center for old women that were less fortunate regarding money. To make sure that they had a place to go if they needed aid.
In the year 1953 the Diaconie Oude Vrouwen Huys was renamed to the Amstelhof. It remained in use as a care center until in 1999, the owner decided that the Amstelhof was no longer fit to care for the elderly, and therefore he handed it over to the municipality of Amsterdam. In 2007 the last inhabitants left, after which it was transformed into a museum. A few rooms, such as the church hall, the regents room, the kitchen and the facades were renovated, and in June 2009, the Amstelhof was opened as the Hermitage Amsterdam.
Do you want to see the transformation of the care center for yourself? Buy your tickets for the Hermitage Museum Amsterdam here.
Connection to Russia
The prosperity of 17th century Amsterdam attracted many travelers and merchants from all over the world, including Tsar Peter the Great from Russia. The tsar came to the Netherlands to buy pieces of art, literature and scientific instruments, forming the first part of his famous art collection, featuring work of a lot of Dutch artists.
The tsar was so impressed by Amsterdam that he ordered a city to be constructed with the Dutch capital as an example, called Saint Petersburg, which currently has more inhabitants that Amsterdam itself. Also, on the river the Neva a winter palace was constructed, which is now known as the Hermitage. This hermitage now functions as a state museum.
In the early 90’s of the last century the principal of the Hermitage St. Petersburg (Michail Piotrovsky) was looking for a partner in the west, with whom he could collaborate. Amsterdam seemed like the best candidate for him and Amstelhof was most fitting location.
Unique art in the Hermitage
With an astounding 3.5 million artifacts, the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg is one of the biggest museums in the world. The Hermitage museum Amsterdam is the largest annex of that museum. Because of that, the Amsterdam museum features big art expositions with art from the treasuries of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, of which most of the art has never left Russia before.
Regarding all of this, the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam is an absolute must. As of now, the museum has an exposition of the famous Dutch masters. Featuring a total of 63 paintings, including paintings from Rembrandt van Rijn. You simply cannot miss this, because the only other way to ever see these paintings another time is by travelling all the way to Russia and going to the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg.
Visiting the Hermitage
I would recommend visiting the Hermitage with public transport. This way you will not be held back by traffic jams and endless searches for parking spots, which also happen to cost a fortune. You can order tickets for the Hermitage here.
Another good options would be to visit the Hermitage with the Hop on Hop off boat. This way you can see Amsterdam from the water, something which is a unique experience already. The Hermitage Museum is one of the places where you can hop off. The best part is that if you are tired of your visit, you can just hop back in the boat and rest, so that you are full of energy again when you arrive at your next destination.
Furthermore, you might also be interested in walking towards the city center. If you cross the Blauwbrug and keep on walking straight ahead, you will end up on the Rembrandtplein, a fantastic location to settle down on a terrace and gaze your eyes upon the city.