Museum Het Schip

Amsterdam | Netherlands

About the Museum

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The Museum Het Schip ("The Ship") is built in the architectural style of the Amsterdam School of Expressionist architecture and is the single most important example of this style. In the 19th and early 20th century, Amsterdam faced a major housing shortage, with many working-class people living in cramped quarters with no electricity or running water. Heating was usually provided by burning peat, and poor families often lived in a single room together.

In response to these squalid conditions, the Dutch government passed the National Housing Act (Woningwet) in 1901. This law set up much higher standards for housing and resulted in both the demolition of older, inadequate tenement buildings and the creation of new housing blocks with much better living conditions and prices that made them accessible to Amsterdam's poorer citizens. One of the affordable housing developments created in the wake of the passage of the National Housing Act was the Spaarndammerbuurt, where Het Schip and several other Amsterdam School social housing projects are located.

The apartments of Het Schip were a radical departure from the poor living conditions of many of Amsterdam's working-class people in the 20th century. Relatively spacious, they include several separate rooms as opposed to the one-room dwellings still common at the time. They also included flush toilets and had ample natural light and ventilation from windows. Ground-floor apartments also had gardens.

The building also includes a post office, which the poor had previously had little access to. The post office contained a telephone box from which families could make calls.

(Photo: Wikimedia)

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