The Cromhouthuis Museum and the Biblical Museum are both housed in one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful 17th-century canal houses. The stately mansion once belonged to Jacob Cromhout, a wealthy and powerful merchant. The Cromhout family enjoyed collecting art. The museums are open to visitors.
The Family Cromhout
In 1660, the Amsterdam merchant Jacob Cromhout bought four plots of land along the prestigious Amsterdam canal, the Herengracht. He built four houses here; two ‘twin houses’.
The Cromhout family lived in the Cromhouthuis for almost two hundred years. During that time the family was part of the enclosed circle of elite citizens of protestant religion who ruled Amsterdam.
The Cromhout Houses Architecture
The Cromhout houses are built in the style of Dutch Classicism. Philip Vingboons is the architect. Vingboons is famous for creating the ‘neck gable’. This is the gable you can see on top of the Cromhouthuis façade. This neck gable became rather fashionable and it was copied on many other Amsterdam canal houses.
Dutch Classicism is a strict and formal style in art and architecture. It became popular after 1625 and replaced the somewhat ‘loose’ Dutch Renaissance. The small group of rich merchants who ruled Amsterdam and the world were very class-conscious and rather posh. They felt this new formal style suited their elitist lifestyle on the grand Amsterdam canals.
In Dutch classicism, fewer ornaments were used. There was a preference for natural sandstone. Pillars were a common decorative feature on the facades of Amsterdam canal houses. Another famous example of Amsterdam Dutch classicism is the former Town Hall, now Royal Palace on Dam Square, built by Jacob van Campen.
The Cromhouthuis Museum
The Cromhouthuis Museum tells the story of the Cromhout family. The family Cromhout were art lovers and collectors. They belonged to the highest social circles. Often they invited important guests to the house to display their art collection. Portraits, furnishings, silver, seashells and other curiosities are all on display at the Cromhouthuis Museum.
Impressive is the painted ceiling in the Grand Salon. It was painted by Jacob de Wit in 1718. The painting depicts twelve Olympic gods, surrounded by personifications of the seasons, the points of the compass and the zodiac.
THe Biblical Museum
The Biblical Museum is housed on the top floors of the Cromhouthuis. The museum exhibits rare bibles, archaeological finds, Egyptian artifacts, prints, and paintings.
The highlight of the Biblical Museum is the oldest printed bible in the Netherlands. It dates back to 1477. The museum is also interested in the meaning of the Bible in present-day and age. Young artists, designers, and storytellers try to answer this question in temporary exhibitions at the Amsterdam Biblical Museum.