The Industrial Age

‘The Industrial Age’ exhibition brings Amsterdam RAI and the Amsterdam Museum together
The rich history of Amsterdam RAI, which has its roots in the 19th century (also known in the Netherlands as the IJzeren Eeuw), has contributed to a unique new partnership between Amsterdam RAI and the Amsterdam Museum. The RAI is the main sponsor of the exhibition The Industrial Age – the Birth of Modern Netherlands, which runs until 2 August 2015. This spring will also see the Amsterdam Museum organise an exhibition on the history of the RAI in the new RAI Amtrium.
The Industrial Age exhibition showcases the development of the modern Netherlands in the 19th century. This was a turbulent period full of contradictions, but also inventions that still define our daily life, such as cars and bicycles. The exhibition also shows how Amsterdam became a dynamic capital, highlighting, for instance, the Palace of Industry (Paleis voor Volksvlijt), the first exhibition space of the Association for the Bicycle and Automotive Industry (Rijwiel Automobiel Industrie, or RAI).

The modern Netherlands
Paul Spies, director of the Amsterdam Museum, explains: “We are honoured that the RAI chose to join our exhibition on the Industrial Age. This was a period in which the foundations were laid for both the modern Netherlands and Amsterdam as we know it now. Since its inception in 1893, the RAI has significantly contributed to both developments. We are happy to have a partner of such calibre on board.”

The RAI since 1893
In 1893, dissatisfied with the proliferation of bicycle exhibitions and prohibitive costs of participating in all these events, various bicycle manufacturers created the association De Rijwiel-Industrie (‘The Bicycle Industry’). They also decided to organise a bicycle exhibition themselves – a single national event that would occur once a year. The first bicycle exhibition took place in 1895 in the Palace of Industry in Amsterdam. Cars were added in 1899 and 11 exhibitions of bicycles, motorcycles and cars were organised up until the First World War.

Exhibition in new RAI Amtrium
From June 2015, a floor of the new RAI Amtrium on the corner of the Scheldeplein Square will be temporarily set up as an exhibition space. “The opening of our new exhibition and convention centre RAI Amtrium seemed like a good opportunity to highlight the rich history of the RAI,” says Hans Bakker, general director of Amsterdam RAI. “The specialists from the Amsterdam Museum picked up the gauntlet and developed a wonderful concept covering more than 120 years of shows and conventions.”

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