The only shame about the EYE Film Institute is the number of visitors with their backs turned to it as they head south from Central Station, into the heart of Amsterdam Center. When they eventually do turn northward to take in the riverfront, the sheer appearance of the marvelous new institute is sure to draw them into the next free ferry across the river to Amsterdam North.
In March 2012, the EYE Film Institute – a fusion of film-based initiatives that included the former Nederlands Filmmuseum – moved from a historic, but insufficiently small landmark in the Vondelpark to the IJ Promenade, where its extraordinary new headquarters, the vision of Austrian architectural firm Delugan Meissl, awaited. The EYE's roof, which appears a brilliant white from across the river, is etched with countless trapezoidal forms in an interlaced pattern. Some observers will pick up echos of another architectural stunner, the Oslo Opera House, whose similarly dramatic form also seems to blend seamlessly with its natural backdrop; in both cases, this includes a splendid waterfront, and neither opera house nor EYE passes up the chances to make full use of their shoreside locations. In the case of the EYE, this means a lovely promenade on the revitalized northern riverside where leisure-takers stroll, chat or picnic, as well as vast waterfront vistas visible from both outside and in, where extensive window space makes the most of the situation.
But no matter how spectacular the views, upon entry into the institute I was quickly swept up in the interior and its attractions, from the serious to the silly. The institute's temporary exhibits explore topics of cinematic interest, from special themes and techniques to retrospectives of seminal filmmakers. The most fun, however, awaits in the basement, where the multimedia entertainment and interactive installations inspire a childlike wonderment. The Panorama room, as the name implies, contains a panoramic screen with several control panels, each of which offers a cinematic theme for visitors to discover as their choices are projected onto the screen before them. Special "pods" concentrated around the basement offer a semi-private place for two to watch selected movies or take a film quiz; similar to the sit-in arcade pods of yore, these mustard-yellow pods have an immersive Cinemascope screen, but extra comfort over their arcade counterparts in the form of a two-seater sofa. The interactive installations dotted around the basement are sheer fun: in one, bubbles are projected onto the wall for viewers to touchlessly move about (and burst), while in another, the Flipbook Machine, participants can film a short sequence of themselves that's dissected into individual frames and printed onto a flipbook, available for purchase at the museum shop.
In addition to all this, multiple films are screened daily; within the same week, viewers can enjoy an immense variety of titles, from Czech cartoonist Zdeněk Miler's The Adventures of the Mole, to Italian-American director Martin Scorsese's seminal films. The selection is often tied to the institute's current exhibit, a retrospective or the latest cinematic releases.
With so much immediate appeal, it's easy to overlook that the EYE Film Insitute is a place with a deeper purpose than entertainment; from its new location on the EYE promenade, it continues to document and promote cinematic history, from the preservation and restoration of classic films and related artifacts (film posters, soundtracks, personalia and equipment) to the distribution of films to wider audiences (fellow film institutes, movie theaters and others). It adds voraciously to its already extensive film library, which cinema buffs can visit for free at its Vondelstraat location (Vondelstraat 69; open Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri. 1 - 5pm; +31 (0)20 589 14 00).
EYE Film Institute Visitor Information:
IJpromenade 1, 1031KT Amsterdam
- Ticket Office: Sunday - Thursday, 10am - 10pm*; Friday & Saturday,10am - 11pm*.
(* The closing of the ticket office depends on time of the day's last film screening.)
- Museum Shop: Open daily,11am - 7pm.
- Exhibition: Open daily, 11am - 5pm.
- Basement: Open daily, 10am - 6pm.
- EYE Bar-Restaurant: Open Sunday - Thursday, 10am - 1am; Friday & Saturday: 10am - 2am.
- Films: €10 for adults, €7.50 for children up to 11; €0.50 discount per ticket with online ticket purchase.
- Exhibit: €8 for adults, free for children up to 11; a €14 combination ticket allows admission to both the exhibit and one film.
- Basement: Free.
Note: The EYE Film Institute accepts payment only by debit or credit card – no cash!
- By ferry - Exit Amsterdam Central Station from the north side and cross the street to the departure point for the free GVB ferries. Take the ferry bound for Buiksloterweg, a three-minute journey. Ferries run 24 hours daily; for exact departure times, see the GVB web site; under "Travel Information" > "Departure Times", look up "Timetable per line", then select "Buiksloterwegveer".
For more information, call +31 (0)20 5891400 or visit the EYE Film Institute web site.