Museum The Ship in Amsterdam is a secret gem. The museum is located in The Ship, one of the most impressive examples of Amsterdam School architecture. Inside the building is an exhibition showing the decorative art of the Amsterdam School and explaining the origins of social housing in The Netherlands. There is a free tour every hour and a lunchroom.
Until April 2, 2019, there is a temporary exhibition in Museum The Ship in Amsterdam about Gaudí, highlighting similarities between the Catalan architect of Casa Batlló and the Sagrada Família and the Amsterdam School architecture.
The Ship: a ‘palace for the worker’
The building ‘The Ship’ was built between 1914 and 1921 by Dutch architect Michel de Klerk. It has a strange, organic shape, that flows and looks like a ship. The complicated brickwork, walls covered with roof tiles, the windows with horizontal bars and many elegant but useless towers as wells as decorative sculptures make it a typical building in the architectural style of Amsterdam School.
But the most remarkable fact about The Ship, is that is was built for the working class. People who worked in the nearby Amsterdam harbour lived here. ‘The ship’ contained homes, a small meeting hall and a post office. It was the idea of the architects of the Amsterdam School that working class people should live among beauty. Thus they created a living space that would ‘uplift’ the worker and his family. ‘A palace for the worker’, they called it. It was the first time such care, investment and dedication was put into the building of worker’s homes.
Amsterdam School architecture
The young architects of the Amsterdam School had socialist ideologies that were popular at the time. In the 19th century working class people lived in terrible conditions in Amsterdam. Families lived in small, dark and damp rooms. Worker’s neighbourhoods such as the Jordaan were more like more like slums where diseases like malaria, typhus and cholera could spread quickly.
Origins of the Dutch housing corporations
The poor living conditions were reason for better to do citizens to start philanthropic organisations to construct quality and affordable housing. In 1901 the politicians recognized the flaw and the Housing Law was in place, setting a new standard for building. Everywhere housing corporations started to build. The Netherlands became a country where over 80% of the housing was social housing of good quality.
Museum The Ship Amsterdam
A free tour is included when you visit Amsterdam Museum The Ship. The knowledgable tour guide takes you around the building, inside the old post office, inside a replica of a slum house and to a replica of a typical 1920’s family home. Tours can be in English, but if you want to be sure: the 3 pm tour is always in English.
How to get there
Directions: Walk or bike to the end of shopping street Haarlemmerstraat, cross the square and the road (left of the large gate), cross the bridge and turn right. Go under the rail road tracks and turn left straight away, crossing the street, following the bike road. Keep walking until you see the and Mueum The Ship. Bus 18 and 22 also stop just before the rail road tracks.