The Hermitage Amsterdam is managed by the Stichting Hermitage aan de Amstel and has an agreement with the Russian government to produce exhibitions together with the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
In the early 1990s Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, was exploring the possibility of having satellite museums in the West. The relationship between the Nieuwe Kerk and the Hermitage had developed through the co-organisation of major exhibitions. As a result the director of the Nieuwe Kerk, Ernst Veen, had the idea of opening a branch of the Russian museum in Amsterdam, inspired in part by the tercentenary of the historic links between the two cities.
Around the same time, the Amstelhof nursing home decided that its buildings no longer met the standards required for modern care. A little later the umbrella organisation of 23 institutions in the Amsterdam region, among them Amstelhof, decided to build new accommodation elsewhere. The Parish of the Reformed Congregation, which owned the building, declared that the Amstelhof should have an exclusively cultural function.
Veen came up with the idea of locating the Hermitage branch in Amstelhof. In 1998 he had been awarded the IJ Prize, given for services to the economic development of Amsterdam, and he used the prize money to fund a feasibility study. The results were so promising that the Hermitage on the Amstel Foundation was established the same year. Because of the future change of use, in 1999 the Parish transferred ownership of Amstelhof to the city of Amsterdam. The city subsequently leased it to the Hermitage on the Amstel Foundation for the peppercorn rent of one euro a year.
In 2000, part of the complex, the Neerlandia building on the Nieuwe Herengracht, was declared to be unsuitable for nursing and was offered to the Hermitage on the Amstel Foundation earlier than planned. The Foundation decided to start the first phase of the Hermitage Amsterdam at the end of February 2004, with small exhibitions and small-scale educational activities. From then until January 2009, some 600,000 visitors came to see the 10 exhibitions: Greek Gold, Nicholas & Alexandra, Venezia!, Pilgrim Treasures, Silver, wonders from the east, Collectors in St Petersburg, Persia, Art Nouveau, Images of St Petersburg and Caspar David Friedrich. The first phase of the Hermitage Amsterdam was designed by the architect Hubert Jan Henket and the interior designer Wim Crouwel.
On 20 June 2009 the entire Amstelhof will open as the Hermitage Amsterdam, which will be ten times the size of the Neerlandia building. Hans van Heeswijk Architects of Amsterdam was commissioned to design the second phase in December 2004. In October 2005 Merkx+Girod was chosen as the interior architects. Michael van Gessel was asked to design the Amstelhof garden and the narrow strip of garden on the east side. The architects were given the task of making the 17th-century building suitable to house the complete Hermitage Amsterdam.
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