The Oude Kerk’s collection was hidden for centuries. No-one was aware of its cultural-historical significance until 2016, when research was carried out into the paintings, objects and building elements. At that time, researchers discovered that many of the hidden artefacts were well worth exhibiting. The David Colijns and Emmanuel de Witte paintings belong to the Instituut Collectie Nederland (ICN). The Oude Kerk recently gave the Rijksmuseum the use of two of its objects and had some important paintings restored, including The View of the IJ. Now that the collection has been revived, the Oude Kerk wants to present it to the public. This involves a major overhaul including the redesign of the entrance area, the development of a museum shop, and the instalment of air-conditioning in the side rooms. There is now more to discover in the Oude Kerk, so don’t wait to come and visit us!
The Oude Kerk’s collection includes about 2,600 objects and some 100 paintings and prints. This latest intervention has provided the Oude Kerk with a total of 155 m2of additional exhibition space to showcase its art treasures. Starting this autumn, the Kerkmeesterskamer(Church Warden’s Office), the Librije(Ancient Library), the IJzeren Kapel(Iron Chapel) the Spiegelkamer(Mirror Room), the Bibliotheek(Modern Library) and the Collegekamer(Board Room) as well as theHeilig Graf(Holy Sepulchre) are open to visitors daily: a brand-new experience. Previously some side rooms, including the mysterious IJzeren Kapel, were permanently closed off. A first, temporary presentation taking place in the Collegekamercentres on the exhibition of a silver, 1-m-high monstrance on loan from the St Nicolai Church in Kalkar. This medieval masterpiece dates from 1549 and originally – in Catholic times – belonged to the Oude Kerk.
The new arrangement of the collection in the intimate side rooms of the Oude Kerk provides visitors with the opportunity to discover more about the church and to view works of art in their original locations. In addition, there is now also room for loans of historical interest, such as the monstrance from the St Nicolai Church in Kalkar, and for work by contemporary artists. The IJzeren Kapelinspired Niek Kemps, for example, and Misha de Ridder’s work is exhibited in the Kerkmeesterskamer. A new audio tour guides visitors along the discovered art treasures.
At the time of the Alteration of Amsterdam on 26 May 1578, the Catholic mayor Cornelis Jacobsz Brouwer, formerly the Oude Kerk’s church warden, was removed from office and exiled from the city. The Oude Kerk turned Protestant. The preceding years had been turbulent and Amsterdam had experienced rapidly increasing resistance to Catholics. Cornelis Jacobsz moved to Kalkar, where he had relatives. He took along his most precious belongings. The Oude Kerk’s valuable monstrance followed later, having been saved from being melted down by Cornelis himself, who bought it for its value in silver. He fully intended to give it back once the Oude Kerk could call itself Catholic again, but that moment never came. When in 1619 the Synod of Dort made it clear that Catholic worship would never be restored, his son donated the monstrance to the St Nicolai Church in Kalkar, which has owned it for the last 450 years. In October, however, the monstrance will return to the Oude Kerk for a period of one year. From its temporary place in the Collegekamerthis priceless, ancient object not only tells the story of Catholic devotion and the consequences of the Alteration, it also encourages people to ponder an experience that many newcomers in Amsterdam share. What does it mean to have to leave home?
The Oude Kerk is the first church ever built in Amsterdam and the oldest building in the city. As a contemporary art institute housed in a historical monument, the Oude Kerk examines its past, current and future meanings and its dynamic environment as both a participant in and representative of the development of our society. Its history, cultural-historical values and architecture are considered continuous, its art being the discontinuous aspect that interrogates and reconsiders. In the Oude Kerk art and other historians collaborate on high-profile and influential presentations. In the Oude Kerk, contemporary art and heritage go hand in hand.
More Oude Kerk boosts the current programme by opening up the collection and supplementing it with international work on loan, revealing the many stories hidden in Amsterdam’s oldest building. More Oude Kerk is an accessible but intrinsically powerful museum experience that creates the foundation for new, contemporary interventions and interpretations of the Oude Kerk and its collection by contemporary artists.
More Oude Kerk is made possible by the support of the BankGiro Loterij, the Mondriaan Fund, the VSBfonds, the Dioraphte Foundation, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and the Friends of the Oude Kerk.