Dutch things in the US


Queen Maxima at the United Nations in NYC


Queen Máxima is in New York City today for the formal opening of the renovated Delegates' Lounge at the United Nations.

The room was recently remodeled by a Dutch design team, lead by Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. A website by the Dutch consulate in New York has more information about the redesign, which is part of an overall update to the 60-year old United Nations building.

Yesterday Queen Máxima presented a report on micro-financing to the secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon. She serves as the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.

Dutch-American Heritage Day

In 1991 President George Bush Sr. proclaimed November 16th to be Dutch-American Heritage Day, a day to celebrate the historic ties and mutual friendship between the Netherlands and the United States.

Historical significance

On that day in 1776 the Governor of St. Eustatius ordered a salute to a warship of the United States, making the Netherlands the first foreign power to officially salute the flag of the newly-independent United States.


Rembrandt in America exhibition on tour


A new exhibition about Rembrandt in America is attracting thousands of visitors at the North Carolina Museum of Art, and will travel to Cleveland, OH and Minneapolis, MN next year. It is the largest collection of Rembrandt paintings ever presented in an American exhibition and the first major exhibition to explore in depth the collecting history of Rembrandt paintings in America.

The almost 30 Rembrandts on display are from private collections and more than two dozen American art museums, and one of the works was transported from the Netherlands for this exhibition. In total, nearly 50 works are shown, including some that were originally attributed to Rembrandt van Rijn but are now thought to be by other masters such as Jan Lieven or Govert Flinck.

While the primary focus of the exhibition is on the history of Rembrandt collecting in America, the show also explores his work across various genres, his artistic evolution, and his influence on other artists of the day. Included in this exhibition are a number of significant portraits from Rembrandt’s prosperous early career in Amsterdam as the city’s most sought-after portrait painter, as well as character studies, historical and biblical scenes, and three of his celebrated self-portraits. In addition, the exhibition features a gallery with Rembrandt catalogues since the mid-19th century.

Identifying Rembrandt paintings

The exhibit is as much about art collecting and mistaken identity as it is about the art on display. It includes works no longer attributed to Rembrandt, including two in the North Carolina museum's own collection. The NCMA is a fitting venue for that, given its history. Back in the 1950s, the museum's first director, William Valentiner, was a major Rembrandt scholar who identified many works by the Old Master.

Many exhibitions devoted to Rembrandt’s paintings were held in 2006, during the 400-year anniversary of the artist’s birth; however, Rembrandt in America is unique in offering visitors a rare opportunity to envision the evolving opinions of scholars and collectors regarding what constituted an autograph Rembrandt painting over a period of more than a century.

Rembrandt in America

North Carolina Museum of Art: through January 22, 2012
Cleveland Museum of Art: February 19, May 28, 2012,
Minneapolis Institute of Arts: June 24, 2012 through September 16, 2012


Dutch Social Security for U.S. residents: new procedures


From Brooklyn, New York, correspondent Benno Groeneveld describes a new procedure to apply for Dutch social security benefits from the U.S.

Applying for Dutch social security benefits ("AOW") while living in the United States used to be quite easy: just call or e-mail the "Sociale Verzekeringsbank" (the Dutch Social Security Administration). The agency would send you a form to complete and return, and payments would start rolling into your bank account starting the month you turned 65.

June 2011: new procedures

But things changed in June 2011. Dutch-born residents of the U.S., whether Dutch citizens or not, must now apply for AOW payments through the U.S. Social Security Administration (S.S.A.). The application requires a special form, of course: SSA-2490-BK. Initially, this form could be found on the website of the Social Security Administration (www.socialsecurity.gov). But when I looked recently, I found only a link to an explanation of a treaty between the U.S. and Poland (yes!), not the necessary form.

My best advice is to call the S.S.A. (1-800-772-1213) to request a copy of SSA-2490-BK. You can also visit your local office. To find the office nearest you, check the S.S.A.’s website.

After completing the form, send it to the S.S.A.’s international office in Baltimore or make an appointment to submit it personally at your local S.S.A. office. Appointments can be made through the general S.S.A. help number and, depending on how busy your local office is, may take some time to schedule. In my case, I waited four weeks.

It is useful to know that there is a special procedure for completing this application process: GN 01725.215C. Officials usually appreciate that kind of help, especially for new or unusual procedures. I met with an official who had never heard of this procedure, but the guidelines made the process smooth.

Form SSA-2490-BK can be used to apply for Dutch Social Security payments only, or you can apply for U.S. Social Security payments at the same time. Dutch Social Security payments automatically start in the month you turn 65. U.S. Social Security payments can start at any time between the ages of 62 and 70.

Preventing abuse

According to the Dutch "Sociale Verzekeringsbank," this procedural change will prevent abuse of the system. The bureau will be able to verify an individual’s data from afar (address, marital status, etc.) giving the SVB more certainty that all information is correct.

The new procedure does make the "AOW" application a little more cumbersome. So, make sure to start at least six months before your 65th birthday.

How much will you receive?

In the Netherlands, an individual’s AOW "account" builds up between the ages of 15 and 65. For every year you lived and/or worked in the Netherlands, you are entitled to a payment of 2 percent of the current "AOW" amount distributed to residents of the Netherlands. Nationality doesn’t matter. I know people who left the Old Country a few years after they turned 15 and became U.S. citizens. After their 65th birthday they applied for and now receive a payment (in Euros!) every month.

The Dutch AOW can be paid through a bank account in the Netherlands (monthly, independent of the amount) or through a bank in the U.S. In order to keep expenses low for international bank transactions low, "AOW" payments can also be made every three months or even once a year, in December.

If you still have questions: call the S.V.B.’s foreign office in Groningen. When calling from the U.S. the number is 011-31-50-316-9010. Or send an e-mail through the website. In my experience, S.V.B. employees are very helpful and they react quickly to e-mails.

Benno Groeneveld, Brooklyn, NY, October 2011.

This article is based on information from the Sociale Verzekerinsgsbank and my own experience. I am not a lawyer or an official spokesperson and I am not responsible for any mistakes in this article. This is only a guideline. Individual cases may be different. When in doubt, or for answers to specific questions: contact the SVB.

The end of dual citizenship?


A new law is currently under consideration by the Dutch government that could spell the end of dual citizenship for Dutch citizens, including Dutch-Americans in the U.S. The law, which is now being reviewed by the Raad van State, will end several widely used exemptions to the general rule that Dutch citizens cannot claim other nationalities without losing their Dutch citizenship.

This will impact thousands of Dutch-Americans and Dutch citizens living in other countries outside the Kingdom of the Netherlands. People who already have dual Dutch citizenship will not be affected, but for people who had hoped to gain both American and Dutch nationality this law is an unwelcome development. With the new proposal, Minister Donner and the Dutch cabinet aim to reduce the number of dual citizens, and to increase the barriers for immigration to the Netherlands.

No more dual citizenship through marriage to a U.S. citizen

The current law on 'Nederlanderschap' has as a general rule that dual citizenship is not allowed. However, there is an important exception for people who gain citizenship through marriage. For example, if a Dutch national immigrates to the USA and marries an American partner, the Dutch national is allowed to keep the Dutch nationality while also becoming an American citizen. This exception was created in 2003 after extensive lobbying by Dutch expatriates and immigrants. U.S. law permits American citizens to hold other nationalities.

Dutch nationality for children born in the U.S.

Children born to a Dutch parent in the United States can currently maintain their Dutch citizenship when turning 18, due to exception "16-2e". This automatic exception will disappear as well, but it appears that maintaining Dutch citizenship for minors is possible as long as their passports are renewed on time.

Work in progress

The proposal, the integral text of which can be found here, is currently under consideration. After a well-visited discussion evening in New York City last week, several Dutch expat organizations have organized an on-line petition against the proposal (in Dutch).

More information:

- Proposed new Dutch nationality law (mirror copy)
- On-line petition against the new proposal

This is a proposed law. For the best information on current law on Dutch citizenship we advice you to contact your nearest Dutch consulate, Dutch embassy or a law firm.

Dutch: a new North-American magazine about the Netherlands


Dutch is a full-color glossy magazine about the Netherlands, the Dutch, and the Dutch in North-America.

The first edition of this new English-language magazine just came of the press this week. We spoke with Tom Bijvoet, the publisher.

"You can compare it to the glossies in stores about Italy, France or the United Kingdom", says Tom. “We target everybody with an interest in the Netherlands, and especially North-Americans with a Dutch background."

The magazine will be published every other month. The current edition has 2,500 copies, the goal is 5,000 at the end of the first year. "There's a large potential market", says Tom, "there are some 5 million North-Americans of Dutch ancestry".

Looking at the Netherlands with a North-American view

Tom describes the content of the first edition, which consists of 48 pages. "First, there are the letters to the editor, followed by short news articles. These are Dutch news items that are of interest, such as the new 'Floating Dutchman Bus' at Schiphol Airport. We have several feature articles, for example an article on the surveillance culture in the Netherlands. We tend to look at the Netherlands with a North-American view, and the large number of cameras on the highways, and in the inner cities is remarkable."

There is an article about the history of the Dutch-language press in North-America. Tom: "There used to be several dozen Dutch-language newspapers in the United States and Canada, some of which stayed in existence for a long time". Other items include articles on immigration, genealogy, travel to the Netherlands, the Dutch language, and a 'Dutch judge' comic strip. Tom: "We try to stay away from stereotypes: we're not about tulips and windmills. On the other hand, if there are interesting developments about water management in Holland, we will certainly write about them."

Target audience

The magazine targets everyone with in interest in the Netherlands and the Dutch. It is particularly aiming at the children of Dutch immigrants in North America. Tom: "Dutch immigrants tend to 'Americanize' very quickly, and the next generation usually doesn't speak Dutch very well. But they know the language a little bit and would have liked to know more about their roots".

Tom is also the publisher of De Krant, a large Dutch-language paper, but there are significant differences between the two publications. "De Krant is a Dutch-language magazine. A large part of its audience consists of immigrants who came to Canada and the US in the 1950s. The numbers of the target demographic of the newspaper are declining, which is one of the reasons we decided to start with Dutch. There are simply not that many Dutch-language immigrants coming the North-America anymore, and we don't want to mix Dutch and English in De Krant. We did a one-time special last year in English for De Krant, about World War II, which was a dry-run to see how an English-language publication would be received. "

The authors of Dutch live in the United States and Canada, and one of the columnists is an Englishman who lives in the Netherlands. Of note is the Dutch recipe column, by Nicole Holten, who translates her online success into a print publication.

A Dutch immigrant in Canada

Tom arrived in Canada in 1999 with his wife and 1-year old daughter. They had been on vacation in Canada, fell in love with the country and decided to immigrate to Canada. Now they have four children, and are living in Penticton, British Columbia.

"After our immigration, I came across De Krant, and started writing columns for it. Four years ago, I got the opportunity to take over the newspaper, so I started a publishing business for magazines and several books, with publications about World War II".

Dutch is now available through the publisher, annual subscription fee is $39.50.

Mokeham Publishing Inc.
250 492-3002

U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands stepping down


This morning the U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Fay Hartog Levin announced that she will be stepping down in September.

The Ambassador cites family reasons for her resignation, and says that she will serve the interest closer to her home in Chicago. Hartog-Levin is the 65th United States Ambassador to the Netherlands; she presented her credentials to Queen Beatrix in August 2009. Her parents were Dutch Jews who fled from the Netherlands to Suriname in 1942 and emigrated to the United States in 1948, shortly before she was born.

From her announcement:

I thank the President for granting me the opportunity of a lifetime, and Secretary Clinton for her
inspiring leadership. Special thanks to Prime Ministers Rutte and Balkenende, Deputy Prime
Minister Verhagen and Foreign Minister Rosenthal with whom I have had the good fortune to
work as well as with the many other officials throughout the Dutch government who are
committed to maintaining and strengthening the bonds between our two nations.

Dutch-American astronomer Tom Gehrels dies


Famous Dutch-American astronomer Tom Gehrels passed away last week at age 86. Professor Gehrels discovered thousands of asteroids and comets and published numerous scientific articles.

Gehrels, who was born in the Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands, pioneered the first photometric system of asteroids in the 50s, and wavelength dependence of polarization of stars and planets in the 60s, each resulting in an extended sequence of papers in the Astronomical Journal. During World War II Gehrels was, as a teenager, active in the Dutch Resistance. After he escaped to England, he was sent back by parachute as an organizer for the British Special Operations Executive.

Gehrels joined the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in 1961 as an Associate Professor. He earned his B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from Leiden University in 1951, and his Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the University of Chicago in 1956.

Read more about Tom Gehrels in this interview with Govert Schilling in Sky & Telescope Magazine.

Exploring Historic Dutch New York


Exploring Historic Dutch New York is a travel guide for the Dutch history of the wider New York area. The book was edited by Gajus Scheltema and Heleen Westerhuijs, and includes chapters by 16 internationally renowned scholars exploring such topics as Dutch art and architecture, Dutch cooking in America, furniture and antiques, and many more. The book will be officially released on June 23rd -- we received a preview copy and spoke with the editors.

Gajus and Heleen started working on the book in 2008. They share a strong enthusiasm for the Dutch heritage of the New York area. Gajus is Consul-General for the Netherlands in New York until the summer of 2011 after which he will become the Dutch ambassador to Pakistan; Heleen graduated in 17th century architecture in New Netherland. They took as their starting point the celebrations for NY 400, which commemorated Hudson's arrival in America in 1609.

NY 400

"When I arrived in the US as Consul-General four years ago, we started organizing the festivities for NY 400", says Gajus. "These 2009 celebrations turned out very successfully, featuring for instance a large number of museum exhibitions and many other events. We donated a Pavilion designed by architect Ben Van Berkel, to the city; Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Máxima visited New York City a week long in September. It all met with great enthusiasm. Moreover, in 2009 more than 30 English language books on Dutch-American relationships were published, many of them of very high quality. However, none of those books would bring you to the Dutch legacy in a comprehensive way"

Heleen: "During NY 400 we met so many great people, many of whom are now contributors to the book -- Gehring, Jacobs, Shorto... The connections we made in 2009 during the festivities really culminated in this book. It's great to have so many specialists contributing articles about the Dutch cuisine in America, Dutch family names, Dutch art in the Metropolitan Museum, etc." Gajus adds: "The experts contributed to the main text, as well as to various inserts in the book, such as on topics like Dutch architecture or the Holland Mania of the 19th century."

Dutch history of New York, New Jersey and Delaware

The book addresses the question: which traces of the Dutch past are still visible today?

"The legacy of the Dutch period is much larger than most people realize”, says Gajus. “We have included all famous Dutch-Colonial houses in the Hudson River Valley area, New Jersey and Delaware. It's really worthwhile to see them. But we also documented lesser well-known houses. Many of the houses date from after the Dutch period, but continued to be built in the Dutch-Colonial style. During the Revolutionary War, for example, many people left Brooklyn for New Jersey, which now accounts for a large portion of the legacy. "

Heleen: "We felt that it was necessary to bundle all traces of the Dutch period, and to provide a single place to find the Dutch history in the region. Architecture is one of the most important heritages of the Dutch."

The book provides addresses, phone numbers and opening hours of the destinations. The introduction is by Russell Shorto, author of the book "The Island at the Center of the World", which introduced the history of New Netherland to a wider audience.

The maps in the book, created by Henk van Assen, are very useful. They provide a good overview of where the various houses and museums are located.

Dutch translation

Gajus: "Until now, there had not been a true travel guide for Dutch New York. Our book tries to meet that demand." Heleen adds: "It is more than just a travel guide -- it's a historical travel guide, with lots of background information. That's why we believe that a translation into Dutch would be valuable. For a Dutch audience it would be interesting to have a Dutch translation and we're hopeful that this will happen sooner rather than later."

Gajus: "Our book aims at a broader audience than most travel guides. We target three groups: New Yorkers and Americans in the area with an interest in history; Americans with Dutch roots, such as the members of the Holland Society, and last but not least tourists from the Netherlands."

Official launch

An official launch of the book is planned for June 23th, in the Museum of the City of New York, the co-publisher of the book. The following day the editors will present the book in the Netherland Club of New York.

The book is a must-have for history buffs and people who are interested in the rich Dutch heritage of the New York region. As Russell Shorto writes in the introduction, "Everyone who reads history has the same secret wish: to go back there." This book helps you find your way around.

Exploring Historic Dutch New York
Editors: Gajus Scheltema & Heleen Westerhuijs
Generally available in stores from mid June
Available for pre-order on Amazon.com

New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion Opens in New York City


Last week the Peter Minuit Plaza and New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion were inaugurated with a ceremony. Several dignitaries from New York City and the Netherlands officially opened the Plaza and Pavilion on the most southern tip of Manhattan in New York City to the public.

Part of part major project that includes a complete overhaul of the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, the Peter Minuit plaza is a transportation hub and public area located directly in front of the ferry terminal.

The New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion anchors the north end of the plaza. This $2.3 million gift from the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's arrival into New York Harbor honors four centuries of Dutch-American friendship and a mutual passion for the values of innovation and creativity, diversity and openness, entrepreneurship and progress.

Design by Ben van Berkel

The Plein and Pavilion was conceived by the Battery Conservancy to create an "outdoor living room for spontaneous and scheduled activities, public markets, seating and shade". The gleaming white pavilion on the plein was designed by Ben van Berkel of UNStudio, Amsterdam.

The design for New Amsterdam Plein and Pavilion creates a 5,000-square-foot programmed space housing regional organic food by Merchant’s Market, as well as the Alliance for Downtown New York’s Visitor Information Booth.

Official opening by Prince Willem-Alexander and Máxima

In September 2009, during the celebrations of NY400, there was an official opening ceremony of the Pavilion with Prince Willem-Alexander and Máxima, but the actual construction of the square and pavilion was not completed at that time.

Photograps on Dutch Arts Events
The Battery Conservancy: http://www.thebattery.org


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