A visit to Amsterdam can now offer you some of the experiences of a trip to St. Petersburg. Opened in 2004 in the neoclassical Amstelhof, the Amsterdam branch of Russia's renowned State Hermitage museum recalls links between the two canal-threaded cities that date back centuries. During a visit to Amsterdam in 1697, Czar Peter the Great, a great admirer of Holland, visited the Amstelhof, which dates from 1681-83 and was built as a home for seniors (at first only for Protestant women). Surrounding a central courtyard, it's flanked on two sides by canals, and on a third by the Amstel River. The St. Petersburg parent has grown from the small Catherine II collection to 3 million items today, only 5% of which can be exhibited at any time. Exhibits in Amsterdam change twice a year, at first in six galleries on the two floors of the modernized Neerlandia Building, which was built next to the Amstelhof in 1888 as a home for indigent married couples. Perhaps the Dutch will get some of their own cultural patrimony back again, if only on loan, since the Hermitage has 600 paintings by Dutch and Flemish Masters, a collection that's considered by many art experts to be the world's finest. In addition to works from the Russian museum, Hermitage Amsterdam also exhibits modern art from New York's Guggenheim Museum. The full Amstelhof complex is expected to open by 2007, with the Neerlandia section repurposed as a "Children's Hermitage."
- © Frommer's 2013
- Recommended 2009