Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

It’s a breezy, overcast day in Amsterdam. I’ve just walked through a tunnel beneath the railway platforms of Centraal Station and I’m standing by the waterfront. My goal – the sleek, angular, Eye building – lies over the choppy river Ij.

Also known as the Eye Film Institute Netherlands, Eye opened in the spring of 2012. The metallic museum, designed by Delugan Meissel Associated Architects, bears no resemblance to the tall brick merchant buildings traditionally associated with Amsterdam.

Ferries to Eye Film Museum

To reach the film museum I have to board one of the free ferries that run 24 hours a day across the Ij. The journey takes five minutes at most.

Even from outside, the banked form of the museum indicates its use as a cinema. New releases and classic films are screened here, drawing people looking for entertainment in addition to film buffs.

Stories from the Netherlands East Indies

I’ve come to take a look at  Looming Fire: Stories from the Netherlands East Indies (1900-1940), which runs until 1 December, in Eye’s main exhibition space. Péter Forgács created the multi-screen installation from amateur film footage. The result is a powerful insight into traditions and daily life in the Dutch colonies. Cultural and historic details recorded by film makers generations ago and are revealed by Forgács.

The bar-restaurant draws people to meet and chat in the museum atrium. Their chatter helps create a vibrant mood and the espresso makers exude the rich aroma of coffee. The dark, stripped wood floor is banked in places; I smile on seeing signs telling people not to slide down the wood.

A history of cinematography

Eye’s permanent collection is hosted down in the basement. The collection features around 60,000 film posters, 40,000 films, 700,000 still photos and 264,000 cans of film. I learn that the oldest films in the collection were created by the Lumière Brothers in 1895, three years after Thomas Edison patented 35mm film stock.

I chat with a member of Eye’s staff about efforts to restore and tint old movies. He shows me how he goes about it and how reels are spooled. Apparently 2,500 metres of film are required to show a 90 minute film.

The museum has an attractive shop, featuring posters, DVDs, books and postcards in addition to more creative gifts. I consider buying a couple of items but put them back on the shelves when I realise the shop, in common with the rest of the museum, only takes card payments (paying by card in a foreign currency would mean additional bank charges).

Even if you’re not a movie lover Eye’s architecture warrants a look and the bar-restaurant is an attractive place to sit, particularly on an overcast autumn day.

Further information

Eye Film Institute Netherlands is at IJpromenade 1.  Check the Eye website for opening times, prices and news of the latest exhibitions.

See the I Amsterdam website for information on things to do and see in the capital city of the Netherlands.

The Holland tourism information website is also worth visiting for ideas.

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