About Memory Machine

Memory Machine is the contemporary cultural programme of Castrum Peregrini. It includes exhibitions, lectures, debates, performances & publications on cultural memory & identity. The programme is realised together with many partners from Amsterdam and abroad. It explores how memory works, private memory and collective memory, and how the two are interrelated. How does memory shape and constitute our culture and our identity? What mechanisms are there to construct and deconstruct, use and abuse collective memory and identity?

mm_about-1The history of Castrum Peregrini as a hiding place during World War II and it’s reality since were defined by freedom, friendship and culture. Back then it was a safe house for youngsters that found shelter in a group of friends, constructing a shield of poetry and art that protected them. Gisèle, who organised the shelter and founded Castrum Peregrini, was herself an artist. The house of Castrum Peregrini is her visual diary. To the current generation taking care of this place it is obvious that the war in Europe may be over but that culture and the human must nonetheless be defended. That is why Castrum Peregrini sees memory not as static and dead, but as a living and volatile matter that needs constant exploration.

mm_about-2The Memory Machine is fuelled by the discussions and outcomes of Intellectual Playground, the think tank of Castrum Peregrini.

The Memory Machine programme is made possible with the generous support of Mondrian Fund, Amsterdams and Fonds voor de Kunst, e.a.

Please find here an overview of activities since 2011.



Het Kunsttarot – De kaarten van Gisèle is zowel spel als archief, zowel instrument als portret. Het is een innovatieve vorm van erfgoed documentatie en een persoonlijke puzzel die steeds opnieuw kan worden gelegd. Het Kunsttarot – De kaarten van Gisèle verschijnt in een beperkte oplage en is te koop voor € 16,95 per stuk en te bestellen met een email naar

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The House of Gisele can be visited in guided tours of 12 persons maximum. The tour takes approximately 1 hour. The group will visit the authentic WWII apartment of Gisèle en her hiders, the salon, where she lived with her husband Arnold D’Ailly after the war and her last studio where today contemporary exhibitions are shown.

house-of-gisele_visitYou can subscribe a group of 12 participants for the price of 120 euro. The price is fixed no matter the size of the group with a maximum of 12. The fee for the visit must be paid by PIN/bank card on spot before the tour departs. Tours can be planned on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10-11 hrs or from 11-12 hrs. During weekends and holidays visits are not possible.

Please send a request to with the list of participants and possibly a sentence on the background of the group or their special interests, your ideal date and time and one alternative day and time. You will receive a confirmation of your request by email within a week with a specified date and hour of visit. Please bring this confirmation. You will be visiting a private house, therefore appropriate and careful behaviour is much appreciated. Children are welcome from 10 years of age, pets are not allowed.

If you are an individual you can also send an e-mail to  and we will get back to you with a proposal for a date for a group you can join for the price of 10 euro.


max-beckmann_oct-1945 _ giseleIn December 1940 Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht rented the 3rd floor of Herengracht 401 as a pied-a-terre in Amsterdam. In that period, she was painting the portrait of her friend Adri Roland Holst in Bergen NH. During that occasion she met the exiled German poet and journalist Wolfgang Frommel. He and two of his Jewish students from a boarding school in Eerde looked for a shelter from Nazi persecution. Gisèle offered her apartment at Herengracht 401. They gave it the code name Castrum Peregrini, after a pilgrims castle in the holy land that was never captured, as a good omen so to speak.

groepsfoto-onderduikersThe group and a larger circle of friends focused on art and poetry to stay mentally sane, with Gisèle and Wolfgang being their teachers, mentors and friends. Gisèle did not join the Kulturkammer and therefore could officially not work as an artist. Still with clandestine private assignments and the support of her vast network she managed to feed the group and maintain the place as a bubble of hope and warmth in the darkest periods of their lives. After the war the group realised they had become a family and Gisèle, bit by bit, acquired the whole house and turned it into a foundation under Dutch law. In 1981 she could also acquire the neighbouring building in the Beulingstraat and connect it with Herengracht 401. Art, poetry and friendship, that bound the group in times of the occupation, became the drivers of the post war community. They used Castrum Peregrini to name the foundation and its magazine that the group started to edit.
gisele-voor-tt-adam-museum_dna-van-amsterdamWolfgang Frommel lived in the building until his death in 1986. Gisèle lived and worked in the house until her death at the age of 100 years in 2013.

A vast and illustrious network of personalities have left their traces in the house,- be it the famous post war mayor of Amsterdam, Arnold D’Ailly, who stepped back from office to marry Gisèle, or Max Beckmann, Georg Baselitz, Marguerite Yourcenar, Roland Holst and many more. Still today the community tradition of Castrum Peregrini is maintained with its core staff living and working in the building.

In 2007 the publishing house was outsourced and the foundation focussed on a cultural programme and research projects around its core values freedom, friendship and culture. As of 2016 these activities are streamlined in three pillars of activities, The House of Gisèle vistors centre, Memory Machine cultural programme and Intellectual Playground think tank. Read more about the current activities here.


Living as Form

Register now! . This two-day international conference in Amsterdam about participatory art in education and culture features keynote presentations of cutting edge initiatives, panel discussions, workshops and open space technology sessions for an active role of all participants sharing their practice and peer-to-peer exchange.   With a.o. Renzo Martens, Patricia Kaersenhout, Pierluigi Sacco,- and you! […]

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Research Council

Radical openness towards the past The complex history of Castrum Peregrini has been subject to research of historians, literature scholars, sociologists and artists. Despite the many and good studies that exist there is a growing demand for research into areas such as resistance, subversive strategies, the relation of arts, crafts and community as well as […]

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Castrum Peregrini Dialogue

We have realised the first round of our think tank, the Castrum Peregrinin Dialogue, with the generous support of the Pauwhoff Fund and in close partnership with the European Cultural Foundation and the Dialogue Advisory Group. The latter – an internationally acclaimed group of peace mediators- holds office here in our premises. The ECF is […]

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Residencies supported by Mondriaan Fund

2017 artists in the residence at Castrum Peregrini supported by the Mondriaan Fund   March & April 2017: Pieter Paul Pothoven  The work of Pieter Paul Pothoven (1981, NL) comprises sculpture, installation, and includes different forms of writing as well. In his projects, he searches for alternative ways of engaging with the past through study […]

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New 3Package Deal coalition: Transhistoricity

De Oude Kerk, Museum van Loon, Castrum Peregrini and De Reinwardt Academie make up the new coalition “Transhistoriciteit” supported within the framework of 3Package Deal. It wants to stimulate ‘creative producers’ to develop activities that connect and combine historic periods and cultural contexts. The coalition partners have selected Tel Aviv based artist Ronit Porat to […]

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European Academy of Participation

European Academy of Participation Creative producers and the communities of tomorrow A Strategic Partnership supported by the ERASMUS+ programme of the European Commission. September 2015 – August 2018 The European Academy of Participation (EAP) brings together 10 partners from all over Europe, including higher education institutions and arts and culture organisations. The project aims to […]

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The Warp and Weft of Memory

“Every poet of furniture — even if he be a poet in a garret, and therefore has no furniture — knows that the inner space of an old wardrobe is deep.”  Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, 1958 The Warp and Weft of Memory is a research project by artist and writer Renée Turner, which […]

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Nov 2013- Nov 2015 Een samwenwerking tussen kunstenares Amie Dicke en Castrum Peregrini. Amie Dicke: “When I first saw the scribble saying ’DO NOT TOUCH~ I am sorting important souvnirs’ on top of an untouched pile of papers, this message perfectly described my own observations at Castrum Peregrini. The note was one of the many small personal reminders from the studio of artist Gisèle (1912-2013), which […]

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Een huis als muze

Een samwenwerking tussen Amie Dicke en Castrum Peregrini. Nov 2013- Nov 2014 . Amie Dicke: When I first saw the scribble saying ’DO NOT TOUCH~ I am sorting important souvnirs’ on top of an untouched pile of papers, this message perfectly described my own observations at Castrum Peregrini. The note was one of the many small personal reminders from the studio of artist Gisèle (1912-2013), which […]

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Silent Heroes

Silent Heroes The Learning Partnerships looks back on an exciting and rich first half of the project. The project has made a vibrant start during its first partners meeting in Amsterdam during which the partners have agreed on a structure, method, division of tasks and timeline to approach the project objectives to be […]

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Silent Heroes, Living Memory.

The context of hiding during the Second World War as a challenge for cultural memory organisations A Grundtvig Learning Partnership financed by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission Partners Castrum Peregrini, Amsterdam The Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam Jüdisches Museum Hohenems Silent Heroes Memorial Center of the German Resistance Memorial Center Foundation, Berlin […]

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Things to Remember (Page Not Found)

trPrice € 9,-

The exhibition Things to Remember (Page Not Found) took place in March 2016 in Castrum Peregrini. It questioned how digital media, endless storage space and new ways of communicating shape the way we capture, share and retrieve our personal memories. This publication serves as a reminder of the exhibition while also sharing some of the outcomes of the public programme, including thoughts about the value of forgetting and the dissident power of melancholia.  With contributions by Bas Groes and Sands-Murry Wassink, interviews with artist Amie Dicke and filmmaker Antoine Viviani. The designer of the publication is Dayna Casey, the curator was Radna Rumping.trpnf2

Virtual tour

This is a virtual visit to Gisèle’s studio in which she worked the last 30 years of her life. It shows the state in which she had left it. Today it is used for the cultural programme of the Castrum Peregrini – Memory Machine, for contemporary exhibitions, lectures, performances.

Memory Machine Magazine

Zaterdag 1 november verscheen het magazine Memory Machine, 56 pagina’s vol artikelen over onze identiteit en het cultureel geheugen. Uitgever Castrum Peregrini vroeg zanger/schrijver Rick de Leeuw vijf bekende Nederlanders te interviewen over welke plek bepalend is geweest voor hun identiteit. En er is een verrassende kijk op iconische fotobeelden die ons collectief gedachtengoed bepaald hebben. Het blad verschijnt als éénmalige bijlage van Het Parool.

Het magazine is onderdeel van het langlopende programma Memory Machine. We are what we remember, georganiseerd door Castrum Peregrini, centrum voor denken, debat en cultuur, samen met een aantal partnerinstellingen. Ons cultureel geheugen en de relatie die dat heeft met wie wij zijn, staat centraal in dit programma vol tentoonstellingen, debat, toneel, documentaires, radio en publicaties.

Je bent wat je je herinnert: identiteit hangt  nauw samen met wat zich in ons geheugen heeft genesteld. De politieke turbulentie van vandaag is onlosmakelijk verbonden aan vragen rondom onze identiteit en onze collectieve waardes: van de Oekraïne, Syrië, Noord-Irak  tot aan Zwarte Piet en de verlokking van het jihadisme bij jongeren. Bij wie ben je thuis, waar voel je je veilig?

Het tijdschrift Memory Machine zoomt in op ons vermogen om te herinneren, maar ook om te vergeten. Verslaggevers gaan op zoek naar de vraag: Wat is er leuk aan een reünie? Hoe maken politici slim gebruik van onze trots over collectieve waardes en wat betekenen social media voor de identiteit van jongeren vandaag? Dichter Maria Barnas tot slot, tekent de stad zoals zij zich hem herinnert: een droomroute langs liefdes, eerste baantjes, Theo van Gogh en getroebleerde dichters.

Het nummer Memory Machine is los verkrijgbaar bij CASTRVM PEREGRINI, of als download hier.

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Het magazine VREIHIJD wordt op 3 mei gepresenteerd tijdens de openingsavond van In Me, the Paradox of Liberty: Donderdag 3 mei, 20uur SMART Project Space.

VREIHIJD gaat over de verwarring rondom het begrip vrijheid. Met bijdragen van Zygmunt Bauman, Thomas von der Dunk, Hedy d’Ancona, Marietje Schaake, Machiel Keestra, Maartje Wortel, A.H.J. Dautzenberg, Rutger Claassen, Mahammad Enait, Mark Mieras, Joost Conijn, Petra Stienen e.a.

Een exemplaar is gratis verkijgbaar bij Castrum Peregrini, klik hier om in te zien!

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De waarheid is een vrouw

de waarheid is een vrouw en andere hedendaagse mythes

met bijdragen van o.a. Maarten DoormanJoke HermsenMaria BarnasBas van Putten, Maartje Somers, Jan BaekeBarber van de Pol en Bas Heijne

een co-productie van Castrum Peregrini en Cossee

‘de elite, dat zijn in Nederland altijd de anderen, per definitie, zowel in de negatieve als in de piositieve opvatting van het begrip’– Maarten Doorman

‘je kunt je bij kunst enorm vervelen en dat is niet altijd jouw schuld’– Barber van de Pol

Castrum Peregrini organiseerde, geinspireerd door Roland Barthes ‘Mythologiën’ (1957), een reeks avonden over de mythes van onze tijd. De essays die daar uit voort kwamen en in dit boekje zijn gebundeld, laten zien dat kennis nog wel een waarde vertegenwoordigt. Dat meningen ook kunnen worden gepaard aan kennis van zaken en dat we dan ook nog iets kunnen opsteken van zo’n mening, dat we op het pad worden gebracht van vragen en inzichten die zowel bevreemding als instemming wekken, die ons verontrusten en behagen. En die ons met een nieuwe blik naar de werkelijkheid doen kijken, bevrijd van een mythe waarvan we niet eens wisten dat die ons beknelde.

ISBN: 978-90-5936-398-4

Prijs: 16,90 euro

de omslag van dit boekje siert de voorjaarscatalogus 2013 van

Fanatismo magazine

Fanatismo magazine is part of the manifestation we are all fanatics!

Official launch at the exhibition you are all individuals!
Friday 6 may 2011, 16 hrs, at castrum peregrini,
Herengracht 401, 1017 bp Amsterdam

Pick up your free copy at castrum peregrini or read the pdf in a new window.