Het Amsterdams Historisch Museum

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by cls223 on May 16, 2003

The museum is housed in what was formerly the Civic Orphanage. In medieval days, there was a cloister here, called St. Lucy’s. After the Dutch Revolt, St. Lucy’s changed its function to an orphanage. In the early 19th century the number of orphans grew to such a number that the building was expanded to its present dimensions. The orphanage moved to a new location in 1960, and in 1975 the museum was opened in this complex of primarily 17th century buildings. I visited the museum to see the exhibit, "Black and White Color, 1000 Photographs of Amsterdam, 1945 to Date".

The photos in this exhibit are in the Gemeentearchief Amsterdam (Municipal Archives), and were selected from both documentary and historical photo assignments. The interactive program has commentary only in Dutch, though explanatory notes for the photographs are in both Dutch and English. In the explanatory notes at the beginning of the exhibit, the following quote caught my eye: ". . . Changes occur slowly in everyday life. Only with hindsight does the picture become clear. You can’t capture time."

Some photographers whose works are displayed are Dirk de Herder, Jan Versnal, Vojta Dukat, and Jos Houweling. Houweling did a wonderful series from 1977 called, "Street Refuse". This was his offering to the 100th anniversary of the Dienst Stadsreinging (Sanitation Department). He used a collage approach, with one piece being articles of clothing, another showing combs, and the most interesting one showing ice cream and ice cream cones, broken, partially melted and discarded. Another photographer, Advan Denderen, spent some time voluntarily incarcerated in prison to get close to detainees and photograph them. Theo Baart did a compelling series on cemeteries. Another favorite of mine in the exhibit was Kees Scherer’s "Stationsplein", a 1955 silver gelatin print of Amsterdamers frantically rushing for trams . . . and this hasn’t changed almost 50 years later.

Amsterdam Museum
Kalverstraat 92 and Sint Luciënsteeg 27
Amsterdam, Netherlands
020 5231822


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