In the early 1990s Professor Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg was considering the possibility of having satellites of the museum in the West. The Nieuwe Kerk and the Hermitage had already established a strong relationship through the organisation of major exhibitions, and Ernst Veen, director of the Nieuwe Kerk, suggested that Amsterdam would be the ideal location for a branch of the Russian museum, given the historical links between the two cities over the past 300 years.
At the same time the Nursing-home Amstelhof Foundation decided that the building no longer met modern nursing standards. The Foundation United Amstel Houses (an umbrella organisation of 23 institutions in the Amsterdam region) which Amstelhof is part of decided to build new nursing homes and to make the Amstelhof available exclusively for cultural purposes.
In 1988 Ernst Veen was awarded a prize for economic development in Amsterdam, the IJ Prize, and the money that came with it was used to fund a feasibility study for a Hermitage branch in Amsterdam. The results of this study proved favourable so the Stichting Hermitage aan de Amstel was founded. Because of the future destination of the Amstelhof as Hermitage Amsterdam museum (expected to be completed in 2009) the Reformed Congregation transferred the property to the City of Amsterdam in 1999.
In 2000 a part of the complex, the Neerlandia building on Nieuwe Herengracht, was offered to the Hermitage Amsterdam because it was regarded as unsuitable for nursing care. It was decided to open in this building at the end of February 2004 as the first phase with small exhibitions and a small educational element, the two cornerstones of the Hermitage Amsterdam.