Peter the Great's Dutch House
Reopens After Restoration

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The wooden house in Zaandam, the Netherlands, where Peter the Great started opening a window to Europe, will survive at least another 100 years from its reopening following the recent renovation on March 8, museum curator Farida Guseinova told RIA Novosti.

“All the works have been completed as planned and on time. The renovation started last November. Occasionally we had to work weekends and even at night,” Guseinova said.

The house, built in 1632, boasts an amazing history and connection with the Russian imperial dynasty and many famous names that regularly visited the unremarkable building over the centuries. Many memorial plates can be found on its walls as reminders of the visits by the Russian royal family, including Napoleon and poet Vasily Zhukovsky, who mentored the future emperor Alexander II and praised Peter the Great in his odes.

In the summer of 1697, Peter arrived incognito in the Netherlands to work at a dockyard in Zaandam. In his spare time, he visited local factories, mills and other facilities. The rumors of his presence spread fast and curious visitors rushed to Zaandam to see the Russian tsar. As a result Peter was forced to leave for Amsterdam, where he continued to master carpentry skills. He spent only eight days in Zaandam and later only paid brief visits to the town but the house became important for the Russian royal family. It belonged alternatively to the Dutch and members of the Romanov dynasty, both taking care of the house.

The first protective construction was built when it belonged to Anna, the daughter of Paul I, who received it as a gift from her father-in-law, Dutch emperor William I of the Netherlands. Anna’s son, William III, presented it to Russian emperor Alexander III, who ordered that the house be lifted up on a stone foundation and reinforced. The protective brick cover and the fence were designed by architect Zalm during the reign of Nicholas II. It is now a house within a house.

The renovation mainly focused on reinforcing the floors and foundation, which cost 725,000 euros, a significant part of the funds from the Summa Group (Chairman of the Board Ziyavudin Magomedov is member of the boards of trustees of the Bolshoi Theatre and the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography).

Additionally, the house was fitted with new concrete flooring and “delicate lighting,” upgraded climate control equipment and roof protection.

“This was a unique design by Zalm with unique concrete elements that can very rarely be found anywhere else in the Netherlands,” the museum curator says.

The blue color of the house has been replaced with the original ochre, red and brown colors. The window frames now have their original shape and color.

“The supporting construction and climate control equipment will further preserve the house and items on display. We can guarantee that the foundation will last for at least 100 years,” Guseinova said.

The small museum attracts nearly 8,000 visitors each year. This is an impressive figure if you consider that almost all of them go there specifically to visit the house.

When Peter the Great’s house, part of the Zaans Museum, reopens after the renovation, visitors will be able see the paintings traditionally displayed at the museum, including a portrait of Peter the Great commissioned by Anna, and items of the house interior such as the bed closet that was obviously too short for the tsar, known for being extremely tall.

For a small town with a population of tens of thousands of people, Peter the Great’s house and its history mean a lot. For example, it spurred the emergence of a Russian community in Zaandam, where streets are named after Russian writers (Pushkin and Tolstoy) or aristocrats and supporters of Peter the Great. Since 1897, every 50 years the town has held an eight-day festival to mark each day that Peter the Great spent in Zaandam.

Source & Copyright: RIA Novosti
8 March, 2013