A new city museum
Since its opening in 1975, the Amsterdam Museum has been recognized as a progressive city museum where activities and exhibitions are organized on diverse subjects, for and with Amsterdammers, and always with the city and its residents in the leading role. Historical and contemporary (art) objects and stories are combined and complemented with the creativity and critical eye offered by contemporary artists. Which makes the museum an important public place for encounters in the center of the city.
The location at the heart of the historic city center and the building’s rich history make the former Burgerweeshuis (City Orphanage) the ideal place for a city museum of the future. After all, the building itself is our collection’s centerpiece. Yet substantial improvements are needed in order to realize the museum’s ambitions at this site, also for future generations.
The design of the new Amsterdam Museum by Neutelings Riedijk Architecten is based on four principles: space for the collection and the public, accessibility, visibility, and sustainability.
View the brochure for more information.
About the building
The new Amsterdam Museum will be an open, welcoming place where visitors and residents can get to know Amsterdam in a museum building that is closely connected to the neighborhood, the city, and its inhabitants.
The design for the new Amsterdam Museum is based on extensive research into the genesis of the heritage monument’s complex structure, into the historical value of the various sections of the buildings, the potential reuse of existing materials, and how best to situate it within the medieval heart of the city center. Inventive, sustainable solutions will transform the closed-off monument into an open museum, reflecting awareness of the history of the building and the location, and of the building itself as the centerpiece of the collection – with plenty of space for the public, collection, presentations, education, and programming.
Preparations for the renovation are already in full swing. More information about the plans is provided on this website. A detailed brochure and all available press information can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. As time goes on, additional information will be added. If you would you like stay up to date with the latest developments, please subscribe to the Amsterdam Museum’s newsletter (in Dutch).
The story of Amsterdam
Over the past centuries, the building on the Kalverstraat has been continuously adapted and remodeled by its users. Throughout this period, it has grown along with the needs of its inhabitants: the nuns of the Sint Luciënklooster, the children of the Burgerweeshuis, and the visitors of the Amsterdam Museum. The heritage monument and its location tell uniquely Amsterdam stories. This fact is still legible in the building today, whether in the historical layout of dwellings, in the gates and courtyards, or in the facades designed by Jacob van Campen. All these elements will be preserved in the new design.
The building’s history goes back to the late Middle Ages. In that time, the Sint Luciënklooster, a nunnery dedicated to Saint Lucia, stood on this spot. After its first appearance in records from 1414, the monastic complex expanded further. This lasted until 1578, the year when the Catholic city government was deposed.
The new Protestant city council confiscated the monastic property and allocated it to various charities. The building complex subsequently became the property of the Burgerweeshuis, and Amsterdam’s orphans took up residence. The situation remained unchanged for nearly four centuries, until 1960.
In that year, the Burgerweeshuis opened a new home for children on the IJsbaanpad in Amsterdam and the municipality purchased the heritage monument. Following a major renovation, Queen Juliana opened the Amsterdam Historical Museum in 1975, on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the city.
Image: Neutelings Riedijk Architechten
Over the centuries, the complex’s many inhabitants frequently made changes according to their own needs and use. They expanded, knocked out walls, and demolished entire sections, which also determines the heritage character of the building. After functioning as a city museum for more than 45 years, it is time for a necessary update. The renovation of the museum is aimed at optimizing the building for its function as a museum.
Design & plan
The new Amsterdam Museum will be an open, welcoming museum with a clear internal route and large rooms for the collection, presentations, and temporary exhibitions. It includes multifunctional spaces for education and learning, workshops, discussion, lectures, and other public programs. With its open access on the ground floor and the many windows facing the street and courtyards, it forms a clear connection with the city and its inhabitants.
The design is based on a thorough analysis of the building’s history. The characteristic layout of the heritage monument consists of dwellings situated around courtyards which are accessed through a gate. It previously functioned as a “village within the city.” This layout is still recognizable today, and will be preserved and enhanced in the new design. The new main entrance is situated in the middle of the complex, so all visitors will approach it through one of the gates and can discover the courtyards before entering the building. The new sections of the building are integrated in the historical layout, with pitched roofs that match the existing cityscape.
Image: Neutelings Riedijk Architechten
At the heart of the design for the new Amsterdam Museum is the establishment of a recognizable entrance, creating a logical internal route, and adding new museum galleries. Altogether this will make the museum a more efficient, spacious, flexible, and sustainable building. The design boosts the museum’s recognizability and ensures the new Amsterdam Museum is an important cultural spot between the Dam and Spui.
The new Amsterdam Museum opens toward the city. Windows and doors which were once closed are opened up. The galleries surrounding the Stadshal and the courtyards are accessible to everyone, free of charge. Moreover, the museum is also accessible for persons with reduced mobility. Everyone will soon be able to make their way to and through the new Amsterdam Museum with ease.
Situated around the courtyards and on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal will be public functions such as a museum restaurant, auditorium, and educational spaces. The windows and doors of the heritage monument, which are now often covered and closed, will be opened up again. In this way the museum presents an inviting face to the city and brings life into the courtyards and along the street. The courtyards are a calm and relaxing spot for both visitors and local residents. There, visitors can experience the historical value and architectural qualities of this heritage monument.
Image: Absent Matter
The publicly accessible entrance, the Stadshal, facilitates a welcoming access. All visitor facilities will be located here, such as cloakroom, restrooms, museum shop, catering, information desk, and ticketing counter. Statues and artworks from the city’s collection will be shown here as well. This multifunctional space with its striking staircase will also be used for public programs. The greatly improved museum route begins and ends in the Stadshal.
Image: VERO Visuals
New spaces & improved existing spaces
A visit to the museum, which begins in the centrally situated Stadshal, follows an unambiguous, logical, and uninterrupted route through historic spaces and new museum galleries. There will be new exhibition halls, spaciously laid out and provided with good climate control systems; two galleries by the Boys’ Courtyard and two others by the Sint Luciënsteeg. The new grand museum hall is on the first floor, above the Stadshal. This hall provides sufficient space for the largest works from the collection, which we were unable to show at this location before.
Image: Neutelings Riedijk Architecten
The new museum includes ample space for education, workshops, and public programs: the auditorium, the various areas for workshops, the education lab, and the project space annex, the Verhalenhuis. School groups benefit from a separate education wing on the Boys’ Courtyard. In the project space and the story house, Amsterdammers will soon be able to gather with their networks and share stories about subjects close to their hearts. Meals can be prepared and enjoyed together.
On 25 January 2023, in response to a request submitted by two Amsterdam heritage institutions, a judge ruled in favor of a preliminary injunction barring the municipality of Amsterdam from commencing with the planned preparatory work for the restoration and renovation of the Amsterdam Museum.
The municipality will of course comply with the court’s ruling and will refrain from carrying out any work until the court has heard the appeal lodged by the two heritage institutions opposing the restoration, renovation, and conversion of the museum building. The appeal hearing is scheduled for 23 May. We expect to start soon thereafter.
If you have any questions regarding this information, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or call 020 5231 822.
Are you a member of the press and do you have questions regarding this information? Or would you like to make an appointment for additional explanation? Please contact the Amsterdam Museum (Kim Koopman, spokesperson) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 5231 822.
The artist impressions provided by Neutelings Riedijk Architecten are intended to give a general visual impression of the design. The images are therefore not an exact representation of the future realization.