Amsterdam Historical Museum Transports Visitors in Time with Opening of the Old Masters Exhibition

  • AMSTERDAM, Netherlands
  • /
  • February 18, 2009

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Beginning March 6, 2009, the Amsterdam Historical Museum presents an exhibition of Amsterdam’s Old Master paintings. With over a thousand works painted before 1800, the city of Amsterdam has one of the world’s finest collections of Dutch Old Masters. It includes some of the best works by famous artists such as Rembrandt, Ferdinand Bol, Jacob van Ruisdael and Govert Flinck. This unique exhibition tells the story of the different ways in which the city of Amsterdam acquired these paintings.

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors will be offered a glimpse of the original context and function of group portraits portraying civic guard officers and governors of charitable institutions. Awe-inspiring portraits cover the walls in imaginary reconstructions of the great hall of a civic-guard headquarters, the governors’ boardroom of the leper house and an office garden in 1900, transporting visitors back in time. Audiovisual presentations reveal the various routes these paintings took before eventually arriving on the museum’s walls, like the incredible journey of Rembrandt’s world famous Night Watch. In fact, until 1808, many paintings of remarkable quality could be seen at the former Town Hall on Dam Square, known today as the Royal Palace.


Before 1800, wealthy Amsterdam citizens would often commission an artist to preserve their image for posterity on canvas or panel, while topographical pictures illustrated how the city of Amsterdam grew and changed over the years.. In addition to commissioned portraits, gifts and legacies from Amsterdammers also helped build the robust collection. More recently, the Amsterdam Historical Museum has contributed to the growing collection by purchasing some exceptional Old Masters, such as the recently acquired View of Amsterdam from Amsteldijk by Jacob van Ruisdael. The range of superb paintings in the city of Amsterdam’s collection makes it one of the most extraordinary accumulations of Old Masters in the world. A large number of relatively unknown masterpieces are also included in this exhibition, offering  visitors an exclusive opportunity to admire some of these treasures from the museum storerooms.

In addition to the Dutch Old Master paintings, the museum itself  forms an intrinsic part of the exhibition as a historic location in its own right. Formerly a civic orphanage, with its original governors’ assembly room, the museum’s own space adds significantly to the visitors’ historical experience.

Accompanying the exhibition is a volume entitled Amsterdam’s Glory: The City of Amsterdam’s Old Masters (NL/Eng) by Norbert Middelkoop and Tom van der Molen published by Thoth of Bussum, ISBN 978 90 6868 496 4, price € 22.00.

Note to editors:

Location                                                          Amsterdam Historical Museum

                                                                        Kalverstraat 92

                                                                        Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 357


Exhibition duration:                                        March 6, 2009 to August 9, 2009

Official opening:                                             March 5, 2009

Entrance Fee:                                                  € 10



Press visual material:                              

Lizzy Ondaatje

Amsterdam Historical Museum

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