A new look for Het Scheepvaartmuseum

12 feb 2019

Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum) will open two entirely new permanent presentations on 10 May 2019, namely Main Gallery: Republic at Sea and Maps & Marvels. The Main Gallery, located in the north wing of the museum, is the starting point of the museum visit. Taking 50 masterpieces from its own collection as the basis, Republic at Sea tells the story of the growth, prosperity, and decline of the Netherlands as a maritime nation during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Maps & Marvels shows how the world was discovered from Amsterdam, as well as how the world came to Amsterdam during the Golden Age. The new course being plotted by Het Scheepvaartmuseum is in line with the museum’s new motto: Water connects worlds.

Main Gallery: the new starting point for museum visits
The new Main Gallery, where the objects featured in Republic at Sea are on display, forms the starting point for museum visits. Paintings, model ships, globes, silver, glass, porcelain, and weapons show how strongly the maritime world and Dutch society have been connected over the centuries. Water has shaped the history of the Netherlands and has determined its role and status in the world. Visitors will experience how naval battles, trading companies, and art in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are strongly related to the close relationship between the Netherlands and water.

Maps & Marvels
The new presentation Maps & Marvels brings together maps by Amsterdam-based cartographers from Het Scheepvaartmuseum’s wonderful collection of cartography works. This exhibition shows how our Amsterdam ancestors found their way at sea in the Dutch Golden Age and how their voyages shaped how we see the world. Using the centuries-old maps, visitors travel to the locations that shaped Dutch history: South Africa, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, and Brazil. The spectacular wall map of Amsterdam by Pieter Bast dating from 1597 forms the starting point.

Treasure chamber
The second part of this presentation is entitled Marvels: a treasure chamber full of beautiful and eye-catching objects that brought the whole world into Dutch homes in the Golden Age. Here, visitors will find wall maps, globes, atlases, and travel reports as well as souvenirs, trinkets, and works of art, all of which symbolize the journeys that make up the first part of the exhibition. In the seventeenth century, the Netherlands was also the European centre of publishers of geographical information in the form of atlases, maps, and globes. The presentation therefore also devotes attention to legendary names such as Blaeu, Janssonius, Claesz, Colijn, and Van Meurs.

Uglier sides of the Golden Age
In these new presentations, Het Scheepvaartmuseum also shows the uglier sides of the Golden Age, including colonial domination, violence, and slavery. To help in telling this story, Het Scheepvaartmuseum acquired two important new pieces in 2018: a portrait of Admiral Cornelis Tromp by Ferdinand Bol and a Chinese famille noire porcelain statuette of a standing figure. These objects place the often-overplayed success stories from our maritime history in a more balanced perspective. A new look for Het Scheepvaartmuseum Refurbishment of presentations: emphasis on collection, research, and building.

Collection and building
One important aspect of the redesign of the exhibition space is making the original architectural qualities of the monumental building dating from 1656 more visible and prominent. It was built as ‘s Lands Zeemagazijn, the arsenal of the Admiralty of Amsterdam. After that, it remained in use as the Magazijn der Marine (marine warehouse) until the 1970s,when it was converted into the present Scheepvaartmuseum. The new Main Gallery is located in the North Wing on the ground floor. From the Main Gallery, visitors have a view of the East Indiaman Amsterdam and the nearby Marineterrein. This strengthens the relationship between the collection and the building.

One of the world’s most impressive maritime collections
Het Scheepvaartmuseum shows how water connects worlds. The museum showcases a wide range of impressive masterpieces and artefacts from one of the world’s finest maritime collections. In addition to exhibitions with a historical character, the museum exhibits work by contemporary international artists and designers The museum draws 350,000 visitors per year, putting it among the top five popular and educational days out in the Netherlands and making it a major attraction for both domestic and foreign tourism.

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