Groote Museum, Amsterdam

Groote Museum at Artis Zoo

The Groote Museum from 1850, part of Artis Zoo at Plantage Midden­laan 41 has been completely reno­vated, restored and modernized. It was reopened in May 2022 after being closed for 75 years (since 1947, due to lack of finances). It now features a unique and modern approach unlike any other natural history museum, but has retained the wonder­ful features and atmosphere from when it was constructed in 1850.

At the time it was the very first museum building in Amster­dam, even before the Rijks­museum (which dates from 1885). The Groote Museum building has been a national monument since 1974.

Back façade of the Groote Museum on Artisplein, Amsterdam

Back façade of the Groote Museum on Artis­plein (May 2022).

When the Zoological Society Natura Artis Magistra (Nature Is The Great Art Teacher) was founded in 1838, they planned to have the living animals in the park and display the dead animals in the main building. But the collection of the Zoological Museum grew so fast that within a few years it had already become too big to display. Fish, crabs, lobsters, snakes and sponges were moved to the aquarium building, skeletons were moved to the hippo house — indigenous animals, insects and Japanese arte­facts were moved to the library building.

Groote Museum, Amsterdam, on a map from 1867

Under the lens the Groote Museum, then the main building of the Natura Artis Magistra Society. Detail of a map from 1867, Collectie Konink­lijk Oud­heid­kundig Genoot­schap (Stads­archief Amsterdam).

As the number of the society’s members grew, they decided to build a new center to meet in — with reception halls on the ground floor and a museum space on the first floor. Designed in Neo­classicist style by architect Johannes van Maurik (1848-1854), the Groote Museum was built between 1850 and 1855. When finan­cial troubles made the museum close in 1947, the collection was moved to a university building on Maurits­kade. Since 2011 the collection is owned by the Naturalis Bio­diversity Center in Leiden. The halls on the ground floor continued to be used as a meeting place for the members of the zoological society, until in 1868 new member halls were opened at Plantage Kerk­laan.

Interior of the Zoölogical Museum (Groote Museum), Amsterdam, around 1900

Interior of the Zoölogical Museum (Groote Museum) around 1900 (Stads­archief Amsterdam).

The renovation took place between 2017 and 2022. Where in the past the museum collection was mostly a static display, the new inter­active approach focuses on the connections between humans and all other life forms on earth.

Photo Gallery Groote Museum (May 2022)

Website Groote Museum:

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