EE Visit to the Dutch National Heritage Museum
A Taste of Holland
On Thursday afternoon a small tour had been planned into the large theme park that is the Dutch National Heritage Museum. This museum gives an overview of the Dutch way of life over the last two centuries. The collection includes typical Dutch farmhouses, industrial buildings, houses, and church buildings, as well as their interiors and other objects, from plows to spinning wheels; from horse-carriages to cars. All buildings have been broken down with scrupulous care at the sites where they were first constructed, and they have been moved and rebuilt in the vast museum park.
Cross-section of Lifestyles
Professor Jan Vaessen, director of the museum, welcomed the participants and opened the visit with a lecture, explaining the Dutch National Heritage Museum position on the intersection of cultural anthropology and history. As he explained, the collection had at first focused on a "folklore approach"; representing the different styles of housing and working in different parts of the country. More recently, however, the museum uses the "ethnology approach" and showcases a cross-section of lifestyles, not only from older times but also from different generations and regions. Vaessen emphasized the choice for focusing on an "everchanging" rather than a "fixed" cultural heritage.
Vaessen also proudly presented the newest prizewinning architectural acquisitions of the museum: the entrance pavilion and the moving exhibition theatre called HollandRama. The theatre presents a multiple sensory experience; the entire platform, with its 170 seats, moves through a variety of Dutch landscapes, from people skating on frozen lakes and rivers to the flat meadowlands, Holland's hallmark. When the skaters come into view, the temperature in the dome drops a few degrees, and when the audience is moved to view the meadowlands, there is the scent of grass and cows in the air. It's all done through a complex, computer-controlled system, which regulates the flow of cold and warm air through the room and adds subtle fragrances at appropriate times.
Most impressive, however, was the tour of the outdoor collection. Here, in between an old paper mill and a brewery on one side, and a row of small workhouses from different times and places on the other, one became immersed in the Holland of old. Workers in traditional clothing moved about, working at the mills and other settings, bringing the history of Holland to life for the visitors, who likely knew of it beforehand only through books.
Thanks to Jan Vaessen, Director,
The National Heritage Museum,