Museum infill and restructure of the Allard Pierson institute, Amsterdam

A hidden gem

at the Oude Turfmarkt

Museum infill and restructure of the Allard Pierson institute, Amsterdam

Atelier PRO architects designed the internal restructure and renovation for the Allard Pierson museum in Amsterdam. The museum is part of the knowledge and heritage institute of the University of Amsterdam. A transparent infill was realized within the existing building lines.

The Allard Pierson institute provides access to the public and the scientific community to the Amsterdam University collections. They cover internationally renowned collections in the fields of archaeology, cartography, book history, Jewish culture, church history, zoology, music and graphic design. It is also the place that offers space for exhibitions, studies, conferences, meetings, lectures, a museum café and a shop.

The Allard Pierson is established in a listed monument located on the historic site Oude Turfmarkt in Amsterdam, that had been used by Dutch Bank De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) until the 1970s. It features a neo-classical style similar to the adjacent premises of the University of Amsterdam Special Collections Library, of which the restructure also had been designed by Atelier PRO in 2007.

Previously the collection was scattered throughout the city. The institute now accommodates all the university's heritage collections on one place. By gathering the collections under one roof, the Allard Pierson has a much better exposure towards the public and relates more evidently to academic events. Moreover, the improved transparency appeals to a wider audience, considering the large number of visitors who pass by this Amsterdam historic site. Therefore, more space was required, thus making better use of the characteristic old buildings and improving circulation.

Designing the infill was a surgical intervention on a small and delicate piece of historic site. The new construction was designed on top of a lower building part, that previously served as the morgue of the adjacent former Binnengasthuis hospital. Here, lateral and rear sides come together, like the shape of a diamond. The transparent new building part forms a new façade, reflecting the layering of the old ensemble. Sloping lines connect the heights of the old roofs. Inside, a sculptural staircase connects the new space with the old ones. This created a more compact exhibition routing and opened up areas that were inaccessible to the public before. For this purpose, additional foundations were laid under the monumental mortuary with great precision and the necessary installations were carefully kept out of sight. The once obscure entrance to the Turfdraagsterpad alley was given a more ‘friendly face’ and now provides an inside view into the massive building.

Main entrance
This monument was restored as much as possible to its original state and now demonstrates more visibility and hospitality. By removing the old glass draught door, the massive five meters high doors became visible and were opened again, just as they were used in the times of the Dutch Bank. The old vestibule has thus become a semi-outdoor area. Those who pass by are made curious and welcomed by a specially designed ticket booth.

Allard Pierson Live
Allard Pierson Live is a free public area with a café, a shop and various labs where you can actively explore and participate in the restoration of your personal artifacts.

In the labs, academics enthusiastically interact with visitors about their knowledge and fascinations.

A special presentation room accommodates meetings where the latest research results within the academic world are presented.

With this renovated building, the Allard Pierson institute builds a unique bridge between the public and all the treasures collected by the university.



World Architecture News (WAN) 2021 Silver Award in the category Small Spaces


The Allard Pierson, a building with a story

  • Allard Pierson Museum and the adjacent Extraordinary Collections Library building © Isabel Nabuurs
  • The impressively large doors and the distinguished space behind them are visible again from the public road.
  • The ticket booth designed by atelier PRO.
  • The information desk, designed by PRO.On the right the access to the Allard Pierson Live, a free access zone, with a café, museum shop and various Labs.
  • By connecting the new extension space with the existing ones, the wooden, sculptural staircase created a more compact routing through the collection presentations.
  • With the transparent new construction made of steel and glass, a new facade was created, while at the same time this ensemble remains legible.
  • The sloping facade bind the various heights of roof and facade levels.
  • AP live, In addition to the shop and a café, the various labs are also located here
  • Geo-Lab where historical maps printed in Amsterdam can be found
  • View from the Turfdraagsterpad alley.
  • Allard Pierson Museum & University Extraordinary Collections Library site
  • Facade about 1869
  • Site