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National Maritime Museum reopens in Amsterdam after extensive renovation to building
Dating from 1656, the museum building originally served as a formal Amsterdam war fleet storage building and became the home of Het Scheepvaartmuseum in 1973.

AMSTERDAM.- The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam reopened to the public on October 2nd, presenting thirteen new exhibitions in its fully renovated landmark building dating from 1656. Highlights include replicas of the large ship East Indiaman Amsterdam and the steamship Christiaan Brunings, as well as Voyage at Sea, a virtual adventure at sea, among other exhibitions presenting 500 years of maritime history.

On the evening of Saturday, October 1, Het Scheepvaartmuseum (the National Maritime Museum) in Amsterdam hosted its Grand Opening in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Dating from 1656, the museum building originally served as a formal Amsterdam war fleet storage building and became the home of Het Scheepvaartmuseum in 1973. Liesbeth van der Pol of Dok architects’ plan was chosen for the necessary renovations of the museum, and in 2007 the extensive renovation project began. Van der Pol’s plan includes the addition of new spaces for meetings, gatherings and social events and the museum features a new restaurant ‘Stalpaert’ (named after the original Golden Age architect of the building), a museum shop, and patios along the water. The crowning jewel of the museum is its dazzling courtyard ceiling made of hundreds of pieces of glass, designed by Architect Laurent Ney (NEY+Partners) who was inspired by the compass rose seen on old sea charts. The museum renovation project was completed in September 2011.

Like many people, when you think of the Netherlands the first thing you may think of is dikes. But think about the sea behind them, and how much of our prosperity, culture and identity we owe to the people who saw the opportunity of the sea and sailed out to find it. We have the sea to thank for our Golden Age, and for so much more. The sea runs so deep in us, you might say we have salt in our DNA.

This is the story that The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam wishes to tell. And more than just a story, it will be an experience. We have chosen to redefine the museum as we know it. Our goal is to make everyone part of the story, with innovative and interactive presentations. With eleven exhibitions, Voyage at Sea attraction and two museum ships to experience, the new Scheepvaartmuseum will be an inspiring journey for both young and old.

The Exhibitions
The Voyage of the Sea is a unique and exciting virtual adventure at sea. You will experience, in all its rage and glory, what people on board ship had to endure, from storms to sea battles. The images will surround you. Stand in the cabin of legendary captain Michiel de Ruyter and watch how he prepares for a sea battle. Take part in a hard-fought sailing race. You will even survive the fury of a torpedo hit. Along the way, you will get to know the people and stories behind the museum’s most extraordinary objects. It is a voyage you will never forget!

For our youngest visitors (up to age 6), we present Sal & Lori and Circus at Sea, a fairy-tale underwater world. The tale of the whale tells the story of how through the ages the whale went from feared and monstrous denizen of the deep to endangered species. This exhibit, intended for children aged 6-12, was made possible in part by the World Wildlife Fund. In See you in the Golden Age, the historic glory of the Netherlands comes to life for children aged 10-14. In Port 24/7, take a tour of the Port of Amsterdam and its surroundings. See the spectacular, twenty metre-long model of the whole port zone between Amsterdam and IJmuiden. And if you dare, take the exciting container ride, and learn first-hand what a cargo container getting shipped through the port must feel like! And of course you mustn’t miss the life-sized replicas of the famous East Indiaman Amsterdam and the steamship Christiaan Brunings, which await you on the quay alongside the museum.

In the museum’s regular exhibits, you will see the most interesting pieces from the collection of Het Scheepvaartmuseum at centre stage. But these, too, are anything but ordinary museum exhibits. Het Scheepvaartmuseum lets visitors discover the Netherlands’ nautical heritage for themselves in an intuitive and direct way. Every piece tells its own story and invites the visitor to take a closer look. In The Glass, Silver and Porcelain exhibit, you will hear the clinking of wine goblets and the clatter of silverware. A huge, festively decorated banquet table stands at the centre of the hall. The pleasant, personal atmosphere piques the visitor’s curiosity about the beautiful objects in the buffets along the walls. Other exhibits, like The Photo Albums, are interactive and personal: you decide how much information you want to call up. All these things make a visit to Het Scheepvaartmuseum an exciting and emotional voyage of discovery through five hundred years of maritime history.

The Building ’s Lands Zeemagazijn
A majestic piece of history

Since 1973, Het Scheepvaartmuseum has been housed in ’s Lands Zeemagazijn, one of Amsterdam’s largest Golden Age buildings. It was originally built as a storehouse for the Amsterdam war fleet by city architect Daniël Stalpaert in 1656, when Amsterdam was the largest port in the world and the Dutch dominated world trade. Today, over 350 years later, ’s Lands Zeemagazijn is still an imposing and outspoken building that exudes an air of maritime history.

In 2007, an extensive renovation of the building began, to make it answer to the needs of today’s museumgoer. That renovation, which was completed in 2011, also involved the addition of new spaces for meetings, gatherings and social events. The renovation master plan was penned by Liesbeth van der Pol of Dok architects, whose previous projects included Het Scheepvaartmuseum’s repository building on the adjacent naval site.

But perhaps the high point of the renovation, literally and figuratively, was the glass roofing of the inner courtyard. Architect Laurent Ney (NEY+Partners), inspired by the compass rose seen on old sea charts, created a self-supporting construction in its likeness from hundreds of pieces of glass set in a metal frame. With this dazzling ceiling, the inner courtyard has been given a completely new function as central square and event location. From the courtyard, the visitor can easily find the way not only to the exhibits and attractions but to restaurant Stalpaert, the museum shop, and the patios along the water.

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