Once the historic home of Amsterdam’s Stock Exchange, the handsome Beurs van Berlage building is now a venue for exhibitions, parties, and special events.
A new Stock Exchange Building
Just before the turn of the twentieth century, architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage was hired by the municipality of Amsterdam to create a new stock exchange building that would accommodate all types of stock trading, including commodities, stock, corn, currencies and ship’s cargoes. Later, men would also trade insurance and options here as well.
It took five years – from 1898 to 1903 – to complete the stock exchange building, situated on Damrak, a track of reclaimed land along the Amstel River. Traders crowded the new building and soon, there wasn’t room enough for everyone. Stock traders moved out in 1912, but others remained there to conduct the business-at-hand.
This building represents a milestone in Dutch architecture, as its design heavily influenced the Amsterdam School of Architecture. The Beurs van Berlage is now seen as a precursor of Dutch twentieth-century architecture.
The exterior of the Beurs van Berlage has several interesting features. The clock tower, which has tolled each and every day since the building opened, is inscribed with two sayings – “Await Your Hour” and “Bide Your Time”, a sort of warning message to potential traders?
Above the three arches at the former front entrance is a relief by artist Lambertus Zeil. It portrays “Paradise, Future and Culture in Decay”. Similarly, inside the main entrance is a series of tableaux by Jan Toorop, representing the “Past, Present, and Future of Society”. These works of art were quite controversial, and there are stories of stock traders who attempted to have them removed.
The Main Hall, which was used for commodities trading and large political events, is the most attractive room in the Beurs van Berlage. In 2002, it was the venue for the wedding of the Dutch crown prince and his bride. The high brick walls boast dozens of arches, and the ceiling is fashioned from double-pane glass. The room remains virtually the same as it was more than a century ago.
The Stock Exchange Building Today
Since 1997, when the last commodity was traded here, the Beurs van Berlage has been a venue for parties, weddings, exhibitions, special events, and more. The former Corn Exchange Room was renovated and is now a glass concert hall and home to the Dutch Chamber Orchestra. The former Stock Exchange Room is also a concert hall and a practice area for the Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra.
Other rooms have been converted to meeting rooms, and the former Beurscafe has long been a shop that sells pens and pencils. A new café was built on the premises.
Overall, 80% of the Beurs van Berlage is still authentic, making it a wonderful example of turn-of-the-century Dutch architecture.