About us

The Allard Pierson is the museum and knowledge institute for the heritage collections held at the University of Amsterdam. Everything we do focuses on connecting the world of the university to society.

The Allard Pierson

The Allard Pierson administers and exhibits the heritage collections held at the University of Amsterdam. Our many specialists are eager to share their knowledge, and the collections are available to everybody. The Allard Pierson is a place for exhibitions, guided tours, research and study, lectures, encounters with experts, meeting rooms, internships, coffee, children’s activities, symposiums, summer schools, classes, coffee and a well-stocked shop. From the Nile to the Amstel is a museum presentation that takes visitors on a journey through 10,000 years of cultural history. The journey starts in ancient Egypt and ends in present-day Amsterdam. In addition, two major exhibitions are held each year. During 2019 visitors can engage with items from the collection and see restoration work close up in Allard Pierson Live, which is accessible free of charge.

The collections of the Allard Pierson

Over the centuries, many collectors, libraries and heritage institutions have entrusted their collections to the care of the University of Amsterdam. These now form the Special Collections. The archaeological collections held at the university were administered separately for a long time at the Allard Pierson Museum. Since January 2019 we have brought all these heritage collections together under one name: the collections of the Allard Pierson. Students, researchers and enthusiasts can consult these rich collections every day for source research.

Allard Pierson

Professor Allard Pierson

Allard Pierson was one of the most enlightened thinkers of the nineteenth century. Born into a prosperous Amsterdam family, he enjoyed a wide-ranging education but was initially drawn to theology. After completing his studies he became a pastor in Leuven and later at the Walloon Church in Rotterdam. Allard Pierson had progressive ideas about religion. As a modernist he opposed everything in the Bible that could not be explained. After breaking away from the church, he was invited to become a professor of theology at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

Allard Pierson was averse to deeply ingrained ideas in all fields of scholarship. When the University of Amsterdam was officially founded in 1877, he was invited to become professor of art history, aesthetics and modern languages. And thus he returned to the city of his birth. As a passionate lover of art and academia in the broadest sense of those words, he became a model for many students.

The Allard Pierson, the museum and knowledge institute for the heritage collections held at the University of Amsterdam, is proud to honour his name.

History of the building

The building at Oude Turfmarkt 127 was originally built as the headquarters of the Nederlandsche Bank. Architect W.A. Froger designed the building, which was completed in 1869. Various details recall its history. For example, tracks for carts of money still run from the quayside into the entrance hall. In 1954 the bank decided to relocate to a new head office on Frederiksplein. The University of Amsterdam later purchased the sturdy building to house its archaeology museum. Artist Dick Elffers designed the conversion of the bank into a museum, which opened on 6 October 1976.

Building renovation

We are working hard to renovate the Allard Pierson during 2019. The revamped museum entrance opens in the summer. With the addition of four floors on Turfdraagsterpad, we will soon have more space for our museum presentation, entitled From the Nile to the Amstel. The first floor will house the museum shop and the new ‘Allard Pierson Live’. The research room will include an extra study area, and the museum café will be thoroughly renovated.

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Allard Pierson
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