NIOD is located in a monumental building on the Herengracht in Amsterdam. Apart from the fact that a lot of history is stored and studied in this building, it also has a rich history of its own. In fact, the history of the monumental building on Herengracht 380-382 is linked in an unlikely way to the institute’s field of research.
When you stand in front of the building the first thing that strikes you is its width. That is because, before 1890, two buildings stood here: number 380 and 382. But on the icy cold night of 13 January 1888 a raging fire struck the recently decorated building at number 382. After the fire, the owner of the building, a rich tobacco trader named Jacobus Nienhuys (1837-1927), bought the building next door at number 380 and commissioned the architect Abraham Salm to design him a new house.
Salm designed the house and façade in the French Renaissance style, a style that was unusual in the Netherlands and in Amsterdam. In addition to the French Renaissance style, the architect used as many other styles as possible so that almost all rooms looked differently. The bathroom, for example, was designed in the Moorish style. When it was ready, in 1883, Nienhuys was able to enter his new house through its wide entrance on his horse-drawn coach. That was something quite unique in Amsterdam.
But it is not only the architectural-historical aspects that make the double building special, but also its residents and users. The history of the monumental building on Herengracht 380-382, which today houses the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, is linked in an unlikely way to the institute’s field of research: Germany, the war, the looting of artistic and cultural property, the liberation by the Allies, the special tribunals to try war criminals after the Second World War, and colonialism in its worst form.
Frank van Vree wrote the article If the walls could speak. The unlikely history of Herengracht 380-382. about the users and inhabitants of Herengracht 380-382.