While the Netherlands is best known for its large, grand museums, it also boasts an extraordinary collection of house museums. Smaller, and more intimate, house museums allow you to visit the homes where people actually lived and worked. They reveal intimate histories, and are full or architectural wonders, historical insights and great stories. At Cultural Cruises Europe, we love visiting these kinds of places, and soaking up culture off the beaten track. Have a look at some of our favorite museums, and start dreaming of your next tour. Many of the websites provide great virtual tours, so you’ll be able to travel even from your armchair.
Discover Hidden Histories of World War Two
Everyone has heard of the Anne Frank House, but that was just one of thousands of places where Jews and members of the resistance sheltered during World War Two. One such example is the Corrie ten Boomhuis, in Haarlem. The Ten Boom family hid an astonishing 800 Jews and members of the resistance between 1943 and 1944, with 5-6 people hiding in the home at any any one time behind a fake wall in Corrie’s bedroom. Unfortunately, the family was betrayed in 1944, and the Nazis stormed the house. Corrie and her family were taken to concentration camps. She was the only one to survive the war. Book a guided tour, and see the hiding place that saved so many lives. Tours in English can be booked via the website, up to two days before your visit. There’s a fascinating virtual tour available, too.
Credit: Corrie Ten Boom House
Visit Rietveld’s dream house
To get an insight into the work of Dutch design master Gerrit Rietveld, there’s no better place you could visit than the Rietveld Schröder House. Designed in 1924, it was commissioned by the young widow Truus Schröder, who wanted a home that matched her unconventional (for that time) ideas about independence and freedom. Together with Rietveld, they created the residence to integrate outside and inside, so that the views of the beautiful “polder” outside were an integral part of the house. Rietveld also designed all the fittings, and developed novel ideas such as using sliding doors to make the space more dynamic. The house was far ahead of its time, and is considered to be one of the best examples of “Dutch artistic movement “De Stijl”. To book a visit, go to their website. You can also do a virtual tour of this captivating residence.
Credit: Rietveld Schröder House (Centraal Museum collection, Utrecht)
Feel like Royalty on Middachten Estate
Middachten Estate, a grand country house located in the beautiful region of Gelderland, is by far the grandest residence on the list. The house was first mentioned in archival records in 1190, and has been owned by the same family for 800 years! When you visit you’ll be able to marvel at the exquisite interiors, and have a ramble through the beautiful formal gardens which provide insights into the history of Dutch landscaping as they’ve remained the same for centuries! Enjoy a stroll through the rose garden, admire the ornamental topiary and even take tea in the Orangery during the summer months. The estate is bordered by one of the oldest nature reserves in the netherlands, the Veluwezoom National Park, so it’s well with taking some time to explore that too.
Credit: Middachten Estate
Marvel at the daring design of the Kijk-Kubus Museum-House
For an eye-opening exploration of modern Dutch architecture, we highly recommend a visit to the “cube house” museum in the centre of Rotterdam. Rotterdam was devastated by bombing in World War Two. This means that in contrast with other Dutch cities, it sports a dynamic mix of old and new architecture, allowing for experimentation and a diversity of styles. The cube houses are one of the best examples of this playful, daring approach to architecture. Built in 1984, this housing block is created as a series of intersecting yellow cubes, creating very unusual living spaces. At the museum you’ll have the opportunity to go inside one of them, and imagine what it’s like to live in this architectural icon.
Credit: Kijk-Kubus Museum-house
“Meet” Rembrandt in the house where he painted The Night Watch
The Rembrandt House Museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about this exceptional Dutch artist, and gain insight into his remarkable personal life. Rembrandt moved into the grand residence in Amsterdam at the height of his artistic fame. He was part of the cultural elite of the time, and received commissions from wealthy merchants and politicians. In that house, Rembrandt created some of the works he is best known for, like The Night Watch, and produced his famous etchings and portraits. He also collected a remarkable array of artworks, prints and other paraphernalia, which can be seen all over the house. Sadly, he had to leave after going bankrupt in 1658. But, fortunately for all of us, the house has been restored to its original glory. Don’t miss the opportunity to get an in-depth look into the life and work of this extraordinary artist!
Credit: Rembrandt House Museum
Are you inspired to start planning your next trip? Then feel free to get in touch with us for more information. We love working with travelers to create tailor-made itineraries to soak up the best art, culture and architecture in the Netherlands and beyond!