I love house museums. Where else can I indulge in my passion for antiques, art and period interior design all at once? House museums are like a snapshot in time – they give you an idea of how someone lived at a particular point in time, in a specific place. They don’t all represent how the wealthy lived but many do – such as the Van Loon Museum in Amsterdam.
The Museum Van Loon, the former house of the regent Van Loon family, is situated in the heart of the Amsterdam Canals. Willem van Loon was in 1602 co-founder of the Dutch East Indian Company. The house was designed in 1672 by architect Adriaen Dortsman. The first inhabitant of the house was Ferdinand Bol, a student of the famous painter Rembrandt.
Pretty amazing provenance, don’t you think? From the front, this canal-side house blends in with all the other stone buildings but upon entering the house you realize it’s not like the others.
The rooms are gorgeously appointed with beautiful furniture, rich dark colors (in some rooms) and art everywhere.
My favorite room was this one. It’s a small room but it’s bright with light and double French doors look over the garden. This was typical then – and even today. If you go to Europe for the first time and see the facades of the houses so close to the street you’d be forgiven for thinking that they have no gardens. Instead the gardens were hidden at the back, inside private courtyards.
The kitchens are interesting as well. There were exhibits of cooking implements and it was fun to guess how these objects might be used.
There were other interesting items too. One item, standing in a corner of the kitchen, was this object. It appeared to be a birch – covered birdhouse and most people just passed it by.
This is the first time this technology luddite has attempted to download a video clip. If it works you’ll be treated to the interior of this “bird house”. I apologize in advance for the choppiness of the clip – it was rather challenging to video between the birch strips.
Can you understand, now, why I love house museums?