History

From 1932 till 1987 it was housed in the medieval Weigh House, on Nieuwmarkt. In 1987, the museum moved to the restored complex of synagogues at Jonas Daniël Meijerplein.

The Weigh HouseThe Weigh House (1932-1987)
On 24 February 1932 the Jewish Historical Museum was officially opened. It was located in a single room on the top floor of the Amsterdam Historical Museum, which was housed in the Weigh House.

In 1955 the museum was reopened by prime minister, Dr W. Drees. Only a fifth of the original collection remained. New objects were added from public and private collections. The Jewish Historical Museum now occupied the entire upper storey of the Weigh House.

In 1975, the Jewish Historical Museum expanded to cover two storeys. By now it had already been confirmed that the museum would be able to move into the former Ashkenazi synagogue complex on Jonas Daniël Meijerplein. The doors of the new building opened to the public on 3 May 1987.

The Ashkenazi Synagogue Complex (From 1987)
Since 1943 the synagogues in which the Jewish Historical Museum is located have not been used for services. In 1945 the individual buildings were found to have been ransacked and the furnishings of the synagogues removed. Only after thorough restoration did they become suitable accommodations for the Jewish Historical Museum. On 3 May 1987 Her Majesty Queen Beatrix performed the opening ceremony.

Ashkenazi SynagogueWherever possible the old components were restored to their late 18th-century state. The colours of that era were used as well. The four buildings were connected with modern materials, such as glass, steel and concrete, to show that the transition from a synagogue to a museum was not a gradual process. In fact, it followed a break in history.

In 1989 the museum received the Council of Europe Museum Prize for its modern adaptation of the historical architecture, which has given rise to a museum that is unique throughout the world. The museum's contents have also received great praise.

The complex consists of four synagogues. Over the years the expansion of the Jewish community created a need for new buildings. Moreover, the people who went to the Great Synagogue had an entirely different status from the crowd that attended services in the Dritt Shul.

The oldest building is the Great Synagogue. It was consecrated on 26 March 1671 (15 Nisan 5431), the first day of Pesah (Passover). Elias Bouman (1636-1686) was the contractor and architect; he was later to design the Portuguese Synagogue. The Obbene Shul was built in 1685-1686. It was originally built above a meat market (hence the name) which was later replaced by a mikveh. This synagogue could seat around 400. 

The Dritt Shul, the third synagogue, was constructed in around 1700 where a house had once stood. It now contains the museum administration and is not open to the public.

Finally, the New Synagogue was consecrated in 1752. The design of the New Synagogue is attributed to city architect G.F. Maybaum (d. 1768). Originally, this was the site of a small synagogue (1730) and three houses. The New Synagogue could seat almost a thousand people. .

Read more about the history of the collection of the Jewish Historical Museum

jhm.nljhmkindermuseum.nlhollandscheschouwburg.nlportugesesynagoge.nletshaim.nljoodsmonument.nlmenassehbenisrael.nl