At the turn of the twentieth century, the working class people of Amsterdam lived in dire straits. Poor families were living in slums confined in small, dark and damp single-rooms with no plumbing, no running water and no electricity. Unhygienic living conditions where diseases like malaria, typhus and cholera were spreading quickly.
When the Woningwet (translation: National Housing Act) was introduced in 1901, new housing blocks were built to provide proper housing and eventually made them accessible to Amsterdam’s poorer citizens.
One example was the three monumental buildings located in Spaarndammerbuurt, a neighborhood near Westerpark in Amsterdam. This social housing complex was completed in 1921 and has multi-room apartments for the workers, a post office and a primary school. The strikingly expressionist design was created by Dutch architect Michel de Klerk, built in the style of Amsterdam School (Dutch: Amsterdamse School). The Amsterdam School is an architectural movement that arose from 1910 through about 1930.
A museum highlighting this Amsterdam School of architectural heritage and the origins of social housing in The Netherlands is housed in one of these housing blocks, within the repurposed primary school. It is called Museum Het Schip (translation: Museum The Ship), due to the particular shape in which the building was constructed. Its permanent exhibition presents the history of the building, the Amsterdam School movement and showcasing lots of decorative arts as well as a collection of street furniture stationed outdoor produced by the Amsterdam School.
Best part of this museum visit is the 45-minute guided tour around and inside the building, happening daily, six times a day, in Dutch and English. Visitors are first shown a reconstructed slum dwelling contained in a small metal container on the courtyard of Museum Het Schip. You will then be led outside the building to learn all about the beautiful façade and its history. Next stop is a visit to the former post office admiring its unique interior of framed windows, old mail box, telephone box, sign boards and glossy lavender tiles. Last but not least, you will get to explore a restored working-class flat, furnished with a collection of furniture made in the Amsterdam School style. A museum home that certainly gives an impression on how the workers used to live here in 1920s.
The building, Het Schip, is considered a prominent example of the Amsterdam School architectural style. A unique brick construction of complicated masonry integrating elaborate building elements inside and out such as wrought iron elements, round curves and ornamental spires.
I highly recommend this little gem of a neighborhood museum, Museum Het Schip. A wonderful museum experience finding out the imprint of living in Amsterdam back in the days and learning about the distinctive style of Amsterdam School. Not your typical architecture museum!
Note: A ticket includes both entrance to all exhibitions and a guided tour. The tour at 3pm is always in English!
Website: https://www.hetschip.nl/en/ (English)
Address: Oostzaanstraat 45. 1013 WG Amsterdam.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 11am – 5pm.
Entrance Fees: €15.00 for adults, €5.00 for kids age 5-12 years old and free entry for children up to 4 years old. Free entry for Museumkaart holders. The guided tour starts on the hour from 11am to 4pm. The tour at 3pm is always in English!
Getting There: https://www.hetschip.nl/…/…/route-and-accessibility-the-ship