Hermitage to Open Branch in Amsterdam in Time for St. Petersburg's 300th Anniversary

The city of Amsterdam has donated the Amstelhof complex to the Hermitage on the Amstel foundation in order for a branch of Russia's leading museum to be opened there. The Hermitage on the Amstel project, which was thought up by Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage, and Ernst Wein, the director of the Nieuwe Kerk museum, will be a 300th anniversary gift to St. Petersburg. The Hermitage on the Amstel foundation was set up in 1995 to carry out the project. It is headed by Piotrovsky and his deputy is Wein. The first exhibition will open in 2003 - in time for St. Petersburg's anniversary.

The Amstelhof was built in the 17th century as a retirement home and continues to serve this function today. The unique architectural complex is surrounded on three sides by the Amstel River and canals.

The North Holland province recently allocated EUR 10 million for the project. The same amount was also given to the Hermitage on the Amstel foundation by Amsterdam city council, and the Dutch national lottery awarded a further EUR 23 million. Ernst Wein has also made his own personal contribution, handing over a EUR 12 thousand prize for his contribution to Dutch culture.

Every six months the complex, which is being renovated to the standards of European museums, will receive exhibitions from the Hermitage and other Russian museums. Open-air exhibitions and concerts will take place in the Amstelhof gardens. Piotrovsky and Wein have planned exhibitions for the next eight years. The first part of the project to open will be the Little Hermitage - a children's centre. The rest of the project will be up and running by 2007.

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