Posted by: Bob Fisher | May 20, 2009

A Renewed Amsterdam Treasure

Amsterdam!

Some cities just speak volumes with the the mere whisper of their names. One of the most traveller- and pedestrian-friendly cities in Europe, Amsterdam is also an arts and cultural cornucopia, especially the greatly expanded Hermitage Amsterdam.

So without further ado, here’s the latest from Amsterdam.

A NEW CULTURAL CENTER FOR EUROPE,
HERMITAGE AMSTERDAM,
TO OPEN IN JUNE 2009

Inaugural Exhibition At the Russian Court
To Present More Than 1,800 Treasures from St Petersburg

Beginning in June 2009, a major new European cultural destination, the greatly expanded Hermitage Amsterdam, will welcome visitors to its elegantly restored 17th-century building in the historic heart of Amsterdam. Founded to bring the richness and grandeur of Russia’s artistic heritage to one of the West’s most charming capitals, this independent cultural institution will inaugurate its spacious new home—ten times the size of the previous building—with the opening exhibition At the Russian Court, a dazzling display of more than 1,800 treasures from the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.

Hermitage Amsterdam is the only dedicated, independently managed venue in the West of St Petersburg’s magnificent State Hermitage Museum. The exhibition At the Russian Court— a deeply researched exploration of the opulent material culture, elaborate social hierarchy and richly layered traditions of the Tsarist court at its height in the 19th century—will remain on show in the new institution until the end of January 2010. Hermitage Amsterdam will then go on to mount two large-scale, temporary exhibitions each year, drawing on the encyclopedic collections and unparalleled scholarship of Russia’s museums to offer cultural riches that would otherwise be unavailable in Amsterdam. Admission will be 15 Euro for adults.

Hermitage Amsterdam will be housed in the classically proportioned Amstelhof, built in 1681-83 as a charitable home for the elderly, which must have been seen by Tsar Peter the Great during his stay in Amsterdam. Renovated at a cost of some 40 million Euros (approximately $50 million), the building has been redesigned as a series of light-filled galleries by Dutch architects Hans van Heeswijk and Merkx + Girod. More than an exhibition space, the 9,925-square-metre building (107,000 square feet) will be alive throughout the day and night with dining in the café restaurant Neva and on the outdoor terrace in summer; concerts and lectures in the renovated Church hall; events in the 400-seat auditorium; shopping in a pair of retail stores; meetings in gracious conference rooms; and relaxed contemplation in the courtyard garden designed by landscape architect Michael van Gessel. The adjacent Neerlandia building, where ten exhibitions visited by more than half a million people have been presented since 2004, will become the Hermitage for Children, a special wing for education, with an exciting program of classes and workshops.

“The opening of Hermitage Amsterdam is the culmination of nearly two decades of planning,” stated Ernst W. Veen, Managing Director of Hermitage Amsterdam. “At the same time, it is a continuation of more than 300 years of close ties between Amsterdam and St Petersburg, going back to Tsar Peter the Great’s fabled residence in our city.”

Hermitage Amsterdam will celebrate its grand opening in June with a White Nights festival, remaining open for 24 hours with gala events and concerts along the Amstel River. Hermitage Amsterdam promises a cultural experience that will appeal to visitors of all ages, providing a window on Russia’s extraordinary artistic heritage.

“Over the past years, we have found many ways to extend our artistic and intellectual resources beyond Russia’s borders,” stated Mikhail B. Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and Chairman of the Board of the Hermitage Amsterdam. “However, we have worked with a partner to create only one great, freestanding Russian exhibition venue in the West: Hermitage Amsterdam.”

To pay a virtual visit the Amsterdam Hermitage, click here.

Photos courtesy of the Amsterdam Hermitage

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