Our Lord in the Attic: A Case Study


Iamsterdam (image from http://www.amsterdamtourist.nl/en/default.aspx)Museum Our Lord in the Attic is one of the popular tourist attractions in Amsterdam. Although it is not advertised broadly, many tourists find their way to this house museum.


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donwload Floor plans (PDF, 2.1MB)

download Visitation records 1889-2006 (XLS, 49KB)

download Daily visitation records 2005 to 2006 (XLS, 25KB)

download Special Events (PDF, 48.5KB)

Visitation of the museum

Design for the Opening posterThe official opening of ‘Museum Amstelkring’ was on Tuesday 24 April 1888. In the early days visitors could only visit the museum after making an appointment. Even so, the public was curious and in 1888-1889 approximately 1600 people visited the museum. These numbers dwindled in 1892 to 299 and in 1894 to 251. In the beginning of the 20th century, visitor numbers increased again. Records show that in 1900 and 1910 there were 400 visitors, by 1915 this was increased to 900 and in 1918 to 1450 visitors.

Today, the museum (which includes the church) is open from Monday through Saturday from 10.00 until 17.00 and on Sundays and public holidays from 13.00 to 17.00. The museum is closed on 1 January and 30 April. The church is still in use today for Sunday mass, every first Sunday in the months from October to April at 10.45.


The antechamber now houses the museum’s reception. This is the area were visitors enter and exit the museum. The reception extends to the back of the antechamber and houses the cash register, lockers and a small museum shop. The person selling entrance tickets to visitors also deals with the shop and can observe visitor behavior in several of the rooms in the museum on a video-monitoring screen, which is located on the same desk.

The antechamber with the reception (photo: P. Ryan)In addition to self-guided tours, there are guided tours for groups on request. Reservation are required for these. The average number of people per group is 25 and there have been between 60 and 120 guided tours per year in the last two decades. From 1951 up until present day the visitors to the building consist of:

The museum kept visitation records since it first opened to the public. These records are almost complete, apart from only a few years. The table on the right gives an idea of the types and frequency of events and the number of visitors they attract.

A fairly recent visitor study revealed that of all the visitors to the museum 52% is foreign and of all ages and that only 40% of the visitors is Dutch, mainly in the age group 50-55+.

The routing

In the current setting, the museum consists of several period rooms, which are open to visitors. The numbering in the cross section map of the building is of the present situation and is taken from the visitor leaflet and is in line with the current routing, which is self-guiding – visitors receive a descriptive leaflet and this cross-section drawing to help them find their way. In the museum, small red arrows at eye-level also aid the routing.

The route is schematically presented in 2D (click to enlarge):

Routing in 2D (Cozijn/Hogenbrik)enlarge

Rooms are indicated in red, stairs in green numbering (click to enlarge):

Schematic presentation of the visitor routing (Cozijn/Hogenbrik)enlarge

Visitors enter through the antechamber, take staircase 1, adjacent to the Heintje Hoekssteeg, to visit the sael. Stairs 2 lead to the canal room and the chaplain's room (which visitors cannot enter) and then staircase 1 leads all the way into the church and its galleries. Staircases 5 and 3 bring the visitors back down via the confessional, the Leeuwenberg room and the exhibition spaces. Staircase 4 leads to the 17th century kitchen.

The group tours take approximately 50 minutes to go through the entire museum. The average visitation time of national visitors is 45 minutes and is slightly more than that of tourists, who spend an average of 32 minutes. The table on the right gives a more detailed look at the dwelling time per room. Apart from dwelling time it is also interesting to know how visitors go through the different rooms. By observing their movement on the CCTV cameras, the pattern of movement per room was analyzed.

Wedding in church (5/5/1962)enlarge

Wedding in the church (5-5-1962)

church visitation Historic church visitation (Excel, 124KB)

Visitation of the church

In the time before the property became a museum, the house was lived in and hosted some small businesses. The church served a Catholic community from 1663 until 1887 when the new St. Nicholas church was dedicated.

Some information on the church attendance and the size of the community can be obtained from the church archive. This research still has to be done. In the meantime, the number of church visitors prior to 1887 may be estimated by assuming that there would have been 365 normal masses (one per day), 10 special masses (based on the Catholic calendar) and 50 events, such as weddings and baptisms, per year.

Mass in churchKnowing that the church can seat 150 people, a high estimate is obtain by assuming that each normal mass and each special mass would have been attended to maximum capacity. A low estimate is based on 50 people for normal mass and 150 for special mass. This creates a bandwidth in between which the exact number of church goers may fall.

The church ceased to serve its community, when the new St. Nicholas church was dedicated in 1887. However, in 1951 monthly mass was reinstated by a group of artists from Amsterdam. The church is still in use today for Sunday mass. Mass can be heard every first Sunday in the month from October to April, accompanied by vocal and organ music. The service starts at 10.45 and the museum opens at 10.15 for churchgoers. Two nocturnal masses are held every Christmas.

Apart from mass, the church can be rented for weddings (approximately 25 per year - May, June and September are most popular) and baptisms; during the ceremony the museum closes for the public. Wedding guests can have a reception afterwards in the basement. The church is also used for lectures and musical events, for which the organ may be used.

© J. Paul Getty Trust / Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage / Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder