The Amstelhof, Amsterdam
This sober late renaissance structure was erected within only two years 1681-1683, by the city architect Hans Petersom, as a nursing home for the elderly Amsterdam women. Today, the Amstelhof houses the Hermitage Amsterdam museum. Worth seeing on its own, faces the Amstel River, almost like much bigger buildings facing the Neva River of the famous Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, built a century later.
At the time of its creation, the Amstelhof has been a modern house of care for the elderly – women could live here in small rooms of only four beds. When in 1719, men were also allowed to live at the Amstelhof; they still had to sleep in one big dormitory located in the building’s cellar. In 1723, elderly married couples could also receive shelter at the especially addition to the Amstelhof, called Corvershof at Nieuwe Herengracht. In total 700 people lived at the Amstelhof, which says a lot about the scale of the everyday tasks for its kitchen and laundry staff. During the 19th and 20th century the building was still used as a house for the elderly and it was several times rebuilt inside. Today there is not much left from its historical interiors (except for the kitchen restored in 1979), but from the outside the Amstelhof remained unchanged.
Until 2007, the Amstelhof continued in its original role as the house of care for the elderly and the handicapped. In the years after the building went through successful reconstruction completed in June of 2009, when Queen Beatrix opened it as the museum.
An adjacent to the Amstelhof building Neerlandia serves today as the Children’s Hermitage teaching children to look at art and to create.