Who are we

Who are we

The Netherlands Open Air Museum: a museum about life

The Netherlands Open Air Museum is full of stories. They are hidden in the historic houses, mills and farmhouses you will find in the museum park, as well as in our work, lives, customs and traditions. We bring these stories - yours and ours - to life during a visit to the museum. Here you can immerse yourself in the past and get to know our history - as well as your own.

A hundred years of the Open Air Museum

At the end of the 19th century the Netherlands experienced a period of rapid change. The industrial revolution brought progress and prosperity, but our crafts and traditions were faced with the threat of being lost forever. Established on 24 April 1912 and open to the public from July 1918, over the last century the Netherlands Open Air Museum has grown to become one of the country’s most visited museums - one that tells a relevant story that is linked to the present, the past and the future.

The Canon of Dutch History

The Open Air Museum looks at the history of ordinary people in the Netherlands. Over the coming years we will be linking these stories to key aspects of Dutch history, including the Dutch East India Company and Michiel de Ruyter, as well as the First World War, slavery and child labour.

Inside the museum park’s historic buildings, and through a striking exhibition in the entrance pavilion, we are shining a light on our history ‘from an everyday perspective’, covering the fifty topics that make up the ‘Canon of Dutch History’. 

In 2014 the story of the 1953 flood disaster will be told in a prefab home from Raamsdonksveer, donated by Norway to help victims of the flood, and an impressive ‘nodding donkey’ will symbolise the extraction of fossil fuels from our land. Gradually the Canon will be revealed, until it is completed in 2017.

Migration, part of our everyday life

Migration - comings and goings - forms an inextricable part of our history. At the Open Air Museum too, this aspect of our history is being reflected more and more. In the Moluccan Barracks, for example, you will see how Moluccan soldiers of the Royal Netherlands Indonesian Army and their families made what was intended to be a temporary home in the Netherlands in 1951.

The Indonesian Yard embodies the memories of repatriated Dutch Indonesians and in the Chinese restaurant you can acquaint yourself with the oldest group of non-western migrants in the Netherlands. Chinese people settled in our country as long ago as 1911. From 1950 onwards Chinese restaurants quickly became an established feature on our streets. Nowadays, going for a Chinese is almost as Dutch as eating herring.

The buildings from Westerstraat in Amsterdam also look at the subject of migration: from the potters who moved to the city in the 17th century to the first guest workers who, in around 1970, took up residence in a former wallpaper shop that had been converted into a Turkish boarding house. Packages are sent from the post office to family members who have emigrated and in the café customers talk about moving to Almere...

Travel through history

The historic tram transports you through the history of everyday life. You can step back in time to a ‘starter home’ from Tilburg from the 1970s and experience the tough existence of the miller, who presses oil in his horse-driven mill amidst a thunderous racket.

In the 17th century converted farmhouse from Hoogmade the clock has been stopped in 2002, shortly before the building was forced to make way for the high-speed railway line, and in a goods shed from Tiel that once belonged to Van Gend & Loos you will find a remarkable presentation on 200 years of transport history. 

Want to find out more about the Canon of Dutch History? Go to www.entoen.nu