Collecting the City: 30 years after the Bijlmer Airplane Crash
On 4 October 2022, it will be exactly thirty years since an El Al Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed on the Groeneveen and Klein-Kruitberg apartment complexes in the Bijlmer district of Amsterdam. A major event that many people still carry with them today. The small exposition reflects the feeling that Amsterdammers have about the disaster. How do they commemorate? And how do different generations process this trauma?
This small exhibition opens on September 25 and is part of the Collecting the City project. Together with communities, individuals and institutions from Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Museum 'collects' and presents the stories and objects of today's city.
Shock, grief and disbelief
The Amsterdam Museum exhibition gives an idea of the shock, grief and disbelief experienced by many people in the Bijlmer. It features newspaper headlines from the day after the crash – “Fire, death, chaos... It banked and then plummeted straight down” – and transcriptions on canvas of calls to the emergency services. There are also drawings showing how primary-school students experienced the disaster, and contributions by three teachers who encouraged them to do the drawings.
The exhibition includes two fragments of the aircraft that were found and kept by individuals, and works of art about the disaster. Samuel Sarmiento, who was born in Venezuela in 1987, painted a picture in homage to the victims entitled The tree that saw everything. Fatric Bewong, born in Ghana in 1981, produced a video installation showing how people in the community remember the event. Both artists are associated with CBK Zuidoost, a contemporary visual arts centre that offers an inclusive, multicultural perspective.
Together with Imagine IC, a heritage centre in the South East district, the Amsterdam Museum talked to local people about the crash. The content of those discussions formed the basis of this exhibition, which is about how Amsterdammers feel about the disaster, how they remember it, and how different generations are dealing with the trauma. The exhibition is being held in the centre of Amsterdam at the request of people in Bijlmer, to raise awareness of the crash in other parts of the city.
The exhibition at Imagine IC will feature a triptych showing the impact of the crash thirty years on. It will include emotional stories and recollections, and a “living memory” presentation of documentaries. The event will also focus on a number of objects from the centre’s permanent display.
Collecting the City
Until 2025, Collecting the City is where the Amsterdam Museum and members of our vibrant city will present and “collect” the city. During that time, many neighborhood museums, community networks, local artists, and enthusiastic residents will share objects and stories about Amsterdam.
Every six months, new contributors are invited to showcase their ideas—whether that is a perspective on the past, a beautiful or painful moment in the present, or a vision of the city for the future. One permanent partner that will be occupying three rooms is the foundation of Museum om de Hoek, which includes 23 neighborhood museums scattered throughout Amsterdam.
Check out the other two small Collecting the City exhibitions
Amsterdam Museum on the Amstel
Amstel 51, Amsterdam
Daily open from 10.00 till 17.00 hrs.
How to get there?
The museum is easily accessible by public transport: Tram 4 (stop Rembrandtplein) and 14 (stop Waterlooplein) Metro 51, 53 and 54 (stop Waterlooplein, exit Nieuwe Herengracht).
Nearest parking garages are: Nationale Opera & Ballet, Waterlooplein, The Bank and Markenhoven. For more information, please visit amsterdam.nl/parkeren.