The Dutch National Maritime Museum manages one of the world’s largest and most prestigious maritime collections. The initial core of the collection was formed in 1916 with the founding of the Dutch Historical Maritime Museum Society. The Society’s first purchases included works by marine painters such as Hendrick Vroom, Ludolf Bakhuizen, Willem van de Velde, and the latter’s son of the same name.
In 1975 the Maritime Museum moved into magnificent premises dating from 1656 and designed by the Amsterdam city architect Daniël Stalpaert. The striking square building had once served as the naval Arsenal and had accommodated the new shipyards of the Admiralty, the forerunner of the Royal Navy. The museum presents permanent and temporary exhibitions that show how water connects worlds and greatly influences the lives of so many people in the past, present and future.
The main gallery, which opened in 2019 with the exhibition Republic at Sea, introduces visitors to the museum’s collection. It tells the story of the Dutch Republic as a maritime nation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the aid of fifty objects and using modern techniques and explains how the world of navigation largely determined history and culture in that period. The story is presented with the aid of model ships, art objects, and utensils as well as paintings. Republic at Sea includes works by marine painters such as Cornelis Claesz. van Wieringen, Cornelis Verbeeck, Adam Willaerts, Willem van de Velde father and son, Reiner Nooms, Ludolf Bakhuizen, Abraham Storck, Adriaen Cornelisz. van Salm, Engel Hoogerheyden, and Robert Dodd. Also displayed are landscape and portrait paintings by artists including Willem Schellinks, Frans Post, Karel du Jardin, Isaack Luttichuys, Jan Weenix, and Ferdinand Bol.
As a privatized national museum, the collection now stands at approximately 350,000 objects, consisting of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, videos, model ships, navigational instruments, decorative arts, tools, vessels, ships’ ornaments, books, manuscripts, atlases, and nautical charts that together spend a period of over 500 years.
Jeroen van der Vliet, Head of Collections (June 2023)