history begins in the 12th century. Back then it was little more than a
swampy area on the edge of the old Zuider Zee and
the Amstel River. Nearby peoples considered it an unhealthy place and the
people who settled what solid land there was developed a strongly independent
character. Amsterdam grew around a dam in the Amstel River.
The old name of ‘Amstelledamme’ is first mentioned in 1275, when Count
Floris V allowed the inhabitants to transport goods free of tolls on
Holland’s waterways. Around 1300, Amsterdam was granted a town charter. In the course of the 14th and 15th centuries, the town developed into an
important trading center, mainly due to trade between the North and Baltic
seas and southern Europe. The city gradually developed into a
market town where products from different countries were stored, sold and
shipped. As money flowed in, class struggle intensified. The Reformation
grew out of a fight for power between the emerging merchants and the
The Reformation and the early years of the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) led to economic, religious and social unrest in the country and the city. The Catholic town council remained loyal to Philips II, the king of Spain. Many other major towns however joined the Prince of Orange’s cause. The Calvinists took on the imperial power of Spain's Catholic Philip II, and in 1578 they captured Amsterdam from him. The following year Amsterdam and seven northern provinces declared themselves an independent republic - Holland - led by William of Orange, the forefather of today's royal family. Amsterdam’s Golden Age started when trading rival Antwerpen was taken by the Spanish and access to the sea was restricted. By 1600, Amsterdam 's ships dominated seaborne trade and fishing in Europe, extending their horizons through the 17th century as Dutch overseas interests were established. Wealthy businessmen provided the funds for the exploration of the seas. This eventually led to the foundation of the East India Company (VOC) in 1602 and the West India Company (WIC) in 1621.
During the Golden Age, Amsterdam developed into a powerful center of
commerce. The major urban expansion programs, with their unique ring of
canals and magnificent gabled houses, started in 1613. Another important factor in the development of Amsterdam was the influx of
many talented artists, artisans and merchants fleeing the rigors of
Spanish rule in the south of the Netherlands. During the 17th century, Amsterdam was a magnet for the arts, the number of painters in the
Northern-Netherlands and the quality of their work increased noticeably.
In the 18th century, the Republic of Holland lost its dominant position in
Only Amsterdam was able to maintain an economic lead.
Eventually, the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784) brought the economy to
its knees. Amsterdam 's trade and fishing came to a complete halt in the
early 19th century when the city was occupied by the French and then
blockaded by the British.
When the French left in 1813, the economy of Amsterdam was in a deplorable
state. Decades later, in the second half of the 19th century, the city
experienced an economic upswing due to the Industrial Revolution. After
1900, the city continued to grow in population as well as in area.
Today Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city that seems to belong more to Europe or the world than it does to Holland. Where counterculture is the norm and nothing seems to be out of place in a city where everything is out of place. It's as if Amsterdam has become the escape valve for the rest of Europe. A place of constant social turmoil within unwritten bounds that were shockingly broken recently by the assassinations of politician Pym Fortuyn and film maker Gogh.
Without the budget or notoriety of the Reichsmuseum or the Van Gogh it struggles to explain that history to it's visitor in a series of attractive displays. A special feature of this museum is the recreation of streets modeled after those that would be found in Java, the Middle East or Africa. Operated by the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), an independent centre of knowledge and expertise in the areas of international and intercultural cooperation, the museum plays host to many cultural events. This has made the Troppenmuseum the largest anthropological museum in the Netherlands.
|While I had the chance to visit, the museum was going through the construction of a major new exhibit so one floor was completely closed off. From the brochure it appears that they have a very busy lecture schedule which unfortunately I didn't have the time to attend. The permanent exhibitions include:|
The Tropenmuseum is more than just a museum. Experts assist museums around the world in capacity building and other activities, for example in collecting and preserving local cultural heritage. Other activities include innovative initiatives in the field of museums and of preserving and exhibiting cultural heritage.