A waiting hall with a thematic design: from caterpillar to butterfly (Tuschinski Theatre).

Tram conductors in Amsterdam have a hard time passing by in front of the film theatre Pathé Tuschinski: tourists from all over the world want to take a picture of this Art Deco rich building. The main hall is often times also  filled with curious tourists or several locals taking picture of the interior.

Heritage Days

Most screening rooms are accessible for public, but there are a few that remain private. These private spaces were once accessible for the elite public attending the theatre during the first half of the 20th century. In 2016 the public had the opportunity to not only admire the screening rooms of this theatre, but also the private rooms. Each year in September, the project office ‘Open Monumentendag‘ ( Heritage Days) organises a two-day event where historic buildings are open for public.That year the theme focused on the 100 years celebration of the Amsterdamse School design; including architecture. This architectural style was very common during the 1910s and 1920s in the Netherlands, a period in which Art Deco design and architecture was also blooming in Europe. The Amsterdamse School architecture could be seen as the Dutch version of the European Art Deco architecture.


Arriving at the theatre, and as expected, the building was very crowded with visitors waiting for the 20-minutes tour during the Heritage Days 2016. Besides the grand theatre room, that is usually open for screenings, we as visitors got the chance to admire a waiting hall that is not open for public on a daily basis. As I was very fascinated by mister Tuschinksi’s story and his taste in architecture, I posted a brief report of this tour on my personal social media account:
“A waiting hall with a thematic design: From caterpillar to butterfly. #omdamsterdam

Abraham Tuschinski (1886 – 1942) was a Polish tailor and a successful businessman. As a Jew, Tuschinski fled in 1903 his birthplace Łódź and arrived in Rotterdam the same year. In 1921 he opened his “Theater Tuschinski” in Amsterdam; designed by the architect Hijman Louis de Jong.
Oftentimes, the name “Tuschinski”, is linked with Amsterdam. However, Abraham Tuschinski himself fell in love with Rotterdam and had many successful cinemas there. Unfortunately, he was captured and transported in 1942 to the concentration camp in Auschwitz and passed away.

Nowadays, the theatre is known as Pathé Tuschinski, a movie theatre. The front facade is mostly in a European Art Deco style. This style is also applied for the interior, in combination with Jugendstil (or Art Nouveau) and the Amsterdamse School style.

A must visit when in Amsterdam.


— at Pathé Tuschinski.”

Caterpillar? Butterfly?

I notice now that I put a title underneath the picture I posted on my personal social media, but I gave no explanation. This private room has a thematic design to it: the life cycle of a butterfly. In this specific picture, the caterpillar phase is reflected in the middle lamp at the ceiling of the bay window. The two lamps on each side of the bay window represents a butterfly  in its cocoon phase. This phase is repeated in the stained glass windows. To complete the representation of the life cycle of a butterfly, the wall opposite to the bay window is decorated with lamps in the form of a butterfly (not seen in the picture). The use of such a theme inspired by nature, was one of the characteristics of the Amsterdamse School or the European Art Deco design. According to our tour guide, Tuschinski was a man who thought ahead to be prepared for any inconveniences: for the carpet in this room, he commissioned another one in the same design. In case the current one was damaged, Tuschinski had a “back up” carpet available right away. Clever man.



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