Mission and vision
Our mission and vision are based on the concept Natura Artis Magistra: Nature is the teacher of art and science. The film below illustrates ARTIS' mission and vision.
ARTIS inspires and encourages a broad public to deal with nature responsibly.
ARTIS is a place that forges connections, bringing people and nature together in imaginative ways and fostering discussion about how nature is valued, understood and treated by humans.
ARTIS was founded under the name Natura Artis Magistra by Messrs Westerman, Werlemann and Wijsmuller in 1838, with the objective of "Promoting the knowledge of Natural History".
Until then, most European zoos were privately owned but, following the example of London Zoo (1828) ARTIS sought to be publicly accessible to the well-to-do middle classes. ARTIS was originally built where today the Children's Farm is, then known as the ‘Buiten Middenhof’.
The initial collection was not particularly spectacular - a few parrots, monkeys and a wildcat from Suriname - but a year later ARTIS was able to adopt C. van Aken's entire ‘travelling menagerie’. A parade of animals, headed by the big elephant Jack, accompanied by numerous other animals including lions, a panther, a tiger, a puma, hyenas, polar bears, brown bears, a zebra, a gnu, a kangaroo and even a boa constrictor more than five metres long. ARTIS had suddenly become a real zoo.
From the early 20th century ARTIS started to decline. In 1939 the Natura Artis Magistra Society was even at risk of bankruptcy. With the exception of the live animals, all properties were therefore transferred to the City of Amsterdam and the Province of Noord-Holland. ARTIS was allowed to lease the buildings and grounds for one guilder per year!
After the difficult war years ('40-'45), things improved again for ARTIS in the 50s and 60s. Following a brief decline around 1970, ARTIS flourished during the last two decades of the 20th century. In 1988 ARTIS celebrated its 150th anniversary by opening a new Planetarium.
The future: ARTIS is renovating
12 years ago, ARTIS embarked on a radical process of modernisation, intended to make ARTIS more socially relevant for the future. A transition from zoo to educational institution. In a world where the relationship between nature and humans is very vulnerable, ARTIS seeks to stimulate a love and care for nature and to develop into the leading institution in that field. That is why ARTIS is renovating. More space is being created for animals and plants, for education and heritage. The renovation work is being carried out in two phases.
The Forest House, Bird House and Pheasantry, all three listed buildings, have already been restored to their former glory. The microbe museum Micropia has opened its doors and Artisplein and the recently restored Ledenlokalen (‘Members' Halls’) have been opened to the public. The new jaguar enclosure and the expansion of the elephant enclosure on the present car park on Plantage Doklaan, have also been completed.
The renewal continues at ARTIS: projects include restoring the Aquarium and the Groote Museum to their former glory. ARTIS hopes that, in the future, this will again enable a broad section of the public to learn about the interrelation between things in nature.
The Groote Museum is one of the finest and best kept treasures in Amsterdam and the oldest remaining museum building still in the city. The Groote Museum was closed to the public in 1947 but is now to be restored as part of the wide-scale renovation of ARTIS.
The Groote Museum will place nature, art and science in perspective. Together with the living collections in the park and in the context of Artisplein, the museum seeks to create awareness of the relationship between man and nature, and the meaning of nature in our culture. It aims to offer visitors a perspective to enable them to develop a better understanding of the impact of human behaviour on nature and biodiversity and, especially, learn to assess their own role in that context.
Wander around the Artisplein – no ticket required – and the city around you changes. There, you’ll make contact with living nature. Time will seem to tick by more slowly. You’ll see buildings, people, and city life with new eyes. From a more historical, more complete perspective. Enjoy the plane trees and the softly murmuring fountain as you soak up the sun. Be inspired by the environment that connects nature, the city and you yourself as an inseparable whole.
Artisplein is open daily from 7 am until 11.30 pm.
Café-restaurant de Plantage
Among the old sycamore trees, in the exquisite historic Ledenlokalen on the Plantage Kerklaan, you will find café-restaurant de Plantage.
Café-restaurant de Plantage has a spacious terrace next to a large aviary with meadow birds from North Holland, while the trees and animals of ARTIS are all within walking distance and earshot. From inside the unique 19th-century wooden sun lounge you have a grand and green view of the freely accessible Artisplein.
Visitors can use ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo’s parking facility.
Opening hours café-restaurant de Plantage:
Mondays - Fridays: from 9 am until 1 am
Saturday and Sunday: from 10 am until 1 am
For special opening hours and further information go to caferestaurantdeplantage.nl/ .