ARTIS launches museum about mankind

Groote Museum more topical than ever – May 27, 2020

ARTIS will open a new museum at the end of next year: the ARTIS-Groote Museum. The Groote Museum is all about mankind. It provides insights into yourself, allowing you to act more effectively in the rapidly changing world in which we all find ourselves. Only when you understand who you are and how you are connected to all life on earth can you think about the future of the earth and become aware of your own role. The museum is housed in the oldest museum building in the Netherlands, dating back to 1855. After many years of content-related development, the museum design has now been completed and ARTIS will soon open the doors of its second museum after Micropia.

Man as part of nature

The current coronavirus crisis has once again made it clear that man and nature are inextricably linked and that mankind is truly part of nature. The museum is now more relevant than ever. The realisation of the Groote Museum is an important step towards the renewal of ARTIS. Alongside animals, plants, microbes and the universe, the museum now also features humans. After all, at this time in history we simply cannot look at the world without seeing man and his impact on the planet.

Emotional expedition

In the Groote Museum, visitors will be taken on an emotional expedition that involves their own body, art installations, organic materials, smells and sounds, leading them to ask themselves, ‘Who am I, where did I come from, where do I want to go? What does it mean to be human, and am I alone or connected?’ Social themes such as circularity, mobility, art, consumption patterns, nutrition and health have been incorporated into fixed exhibits. The human body forms the starting point of each exhibit. You can use your own body as part of the expedition, allowing you to discover yourself and connect with the world around you. This makes the themes personal and gives you more insight into who you are. You become aware of your surroundings, hold yourself up against them and notice that you are part of a larger whole.


A unique feature is that the Groote Museum consists of both the museum expedition and a workshop. These two functions merge and enhance each other. The workshop is a place for diving deeper and interaction, offering a daily programme. Here, experts share their knowledge with visitors and freely accessible workshops are held several times a day. Custom workshops will be held for pupils, students and young professionals in line with the curricula. Companies, organisations, policymakers and scientists will soon be able to meet, debate and deepen their knowledge here. The museum also offers scope for artists. The aim of all these aspects is to provide insights and bring about the necessary social changes in thought and action.

Amsterdam's best kept secret

The Groote Museum was built between 1852 and 1855 and was the first museum building in the Netherlands. It was a meeting place that played an important social and cultural role in Amsterdam in the 19th and first half of the 20th century. It is sometimes called Amsterdam's best kept secret, as the doors have been closed since 1947. The renovation and restoration of this national heritage site started in 2017 and will be completed by 2021. The renovated and restored building will be an important piece of the museum's collection, enhancing the visitor experience.

Spurred on by the crisis

‘The current time once again underlines the urgency of gaining greater insights into ourselves and the relationship with the world around us. It provides an additional incentive to continue with the realisation of the Groote Museum, however challenging this may be. The museum will soon provide a wide audience with insights into themselves in relation to their surroundings and the earth on which we live,’ says Rembrandt Sutorius, ARTIS director. The development of the museum and workshop is partly made possible thanks to the cooperation with the museum’s partner World Wide Fund for Nature. In addition, the BankGiro Loterij, a large number of private donors and funds – including the Cor van Zadelhoff Fund – and the government have helped with the renovation and restoration of the listed building.

The coronavirus crisis has made a big hole in ARTIS’ budget, resulting from the lack of income while the park and Micropia are closed. ARTIS is currently looking for partners to help realise the museum's design. All support will be more than welcome.

The Groote Museum is being created by almost the same team that developed the international-award-winning Micropia. For the museum's content, the team are working with over 50 scientists, experts and artists who will also remain affiliated once the museum opens its doors. Among other things, this will take the form of giving lectures to the ARTIS Academy.