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On the occasion of the opening of the new Hermitage-Amsterdam Centre

    




The Hermitage-Amsterdam is a unique exhibition and educational Russian cultural centre, organized in an optimal way, functioning in the Netherlands as an independent legal entity, representing the ideology of the Russian culture in the heart of Europe. This method of cultural expansion is innovative for the world. It has already been adopted by several largest world museums (for instance, the Louvre). At the same time it constitutes a part of the external policy of the Hermitage: centres based on the same principles of independent financing and the Hermitage museum control exists in Kazan, London, Ferrare. The centre in Vyborg is being prepared for the opening. Negotiations on the opening of the Museum of New Art in Vilnius are being carried out.

The cooperation of the Hermitage with the Dutch colleagues in Amsterdam began with programmes for children and exhibitions in the building of the exhibition centre in the Nieuwe Kirk in Amsterdam: The Scythian Gold, Catherine the Great, From Russia with Love, The Stroganovs, The Art of Islam.

In 1994 the foundation Hermitage Friends was established in the Netherlands. It assisted the Hermitage in realizing such projects as A new Roof for Rembrandt and New Lighting for Rembrandt (1998, the opening ceremony was attended by His Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander) and A New Roof and New Lighting for the Dutch Artists in the Hermitage (2001, the opening of the restored Pavilion Hall and 12 other restored rooms was attended by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix). The Dutch Hermitage Friends actively participate in the life of the Hermitage-Amsterdam centre and the State Hermitage.

The idea of establishing the Hermitage-Amsterdam centre emerged after the decision to relocate the Nursing-home situated in an architectural monument of XVII century, the Amstelhof building, in the centre of Amsterdam to the better-appointed premises. The building was donated to the foundation Hermitage-on-the-Amstel on condition that it is used for cultural purposes. The administration and financing of the project is carried out by the Hermitage-on-the-Amstel Foundation, the honorary President of which is the Director of the State Hermitage. The Director of the Hermitage-Amsterdam centre is Ernst Veen. There is a‹consulting council actively participating in the work of the centre. The official Patron of the Hermitage-Amsterdam centre is His Royal Highness Willem-Alexander the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Means for reconstruction and museumification of the Amstelhof and the exhibition activity were donated to the foundation Hermitage-on-the-Amstel by the following organizations: BankGiro Loterij (television lotteries), the government of the Netherlands, the government of the province Northern Holland, the municipality of Amsterdam, the V. Jensen Charity Foundation, the foundation Amsterdam Gardens and the Prince Bernard Foundation, Fortis bank, as well as the companies Philips, KPMG, Fugro, AON Artscope Nederland, Heineken. The centre has the following financial scheme of work: half of the operating expenses is covered by sponsors, the other half - by revenues from the tickets. The cost for the complete reconstruction of the Amstelhof building is estimated to be €40 million. The Hermitage-Amsterdam centre is a public and private initiative which is a unique case for the Netherlands.

The main document regulating the cooperation between the State Hermitage and the Dutch side is an Agreement concluded between the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the State Hermitage and the Hermitage-on-the-Amstel Foundation, signed in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Kingdom of the Netherlands during the opening ceremony of the Pavilion Hall of the Hermitage. The Agreement is effective till December 31, 2016. At the moment a new agreement taking into consideration the scope of the project is being prepared.

The first stage of the project is the opening of the Hermitage-Amsterdam centre in the Neerlandia building on February 28, 2004 (a wing of the Amstelhof built in the middle of XIX century and including six exhibition halls with the total area of 500 m2) and the exhibition Greek Gold. In total ten exhibitions have been organized, for which scientific catalogues have been prepared; various educational programmes for children have been developed and realized basing on the experience of the State Hermitage, among which one can mention The Hermitage School, The Hermitage Studio and The Hermitage Academy for the pupils of Amsterdam, as well as educational programmes for adults.

The second stage of the project is the opening of the Amstelhof building which is to host the Hermitage-Amsterdam centre. The Amstelhof is scheduled to be officially opened June 20, 2009. The building was erected in 1681-1683 as a Nursing-home. It could have been seen by Peter the Great during his visit to Amsterdam in 1697. The reconstruction of the building has been carried out to the project of the architect Hans van Heeswijk; the design of the interior was done by the Merkx + Girod bureau, the central courtyard was designed by the landscape architect Michael van Gessel. The total area of the building is 12 846 m2, the exhibition area is 2172 m2 (two big exhibition halls and exhibition rooms). The complex includes lecture halls, Neva cafe-restaurant, a conference hall that can seat 400 people, two big museum stores and several halls for business meetings.

The Amstelhof building will be opened with the exhibition At the Russian Court: Palace and Protocol in the 19th Century, which will include more than 2000 exhibits from the State Hermitage. The exhibition will be opened till January 31, 2010. The expected number of visitors is 320,000 people. After that the Hermitage-Amsterdam centre will host two big temporary exhibitions from the State Hermitage on an annual basis (possibly with the participation of other Russian museums).

The Neerlandia building after the opening of the Amstelhof will be reconstructed and used entirely for activities for children. The project Hermitage for Children includes five art studios, two classes, a canteen and a museum store. This school centre will be able to host up to 25,000 children per year (both from Amsterdam and from other cities). It is also planned to organize special excursions for children at the age of 12-18. The main partner of the project is VSB Foundation. As of now Hermitage for Children is the largest and most successful educational museum project in the Netherlands.

Exhibition projects are regulated by separate agreements in accordance with the standard Russian rules. The State Hermitage receives compensation in the amount of one euro per visitor.

    


View of the Amstelhof building


The Nursing-home in the Amstelhof building


The Director of the State Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky


The Director of the Hermitage-Amsterdam centre Ernst Veen


The Neerlandia - a Wing of the Amstelhof


Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Director of the State Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky at the opening ceremony of the rooms of Dutch art of XVII century


Works in one of the rooms of the Amstelhof


Unpacking of the items for the exhibition

 

 

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