The Dutch Museumkaart: A Must For Museum Lovers!

Depending on where in the world you are from you might be used to having free entry to government-funded museums.  I know in the UK and Ireland that was the case, but not in the US.  But then again, back in Boston, you could borrow museum passes at your Boston Public library – many giving you FREE entry and others giving a significant discount.  But here in the Netherlands you have to pay for entry and warning the prices can be quite steep – around €6-10 for small, local museums to €16-25 per adult for some of the larger, more popular national museums like the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Hermitage, Maritime Museum, NEMO and Stedelijk.

If you live in the Netherlands it’s definitely worth investing in the Museumkaart if you enjoy museums and expect to go several times in the year. While the actual museum card isn’t that cheap at (€64.90 for adults and €32.40 for children), but once you’ve bought it, you can freely enter as many museums over the year as you want. After just three visits to major museums in the year you’re getting the full return on your investment. There’s no information on the Museumkaart website in English. You can buy the card online, but will have to pay €4.95 admin costs – which includes insurance against theft or loss. When you renew your card online the next year, you don’t have to pay the €4.95 fee.   It’s also important to note that it’s personalized with your photo.  Occasionally the museum will charge an additional small fee for special exhibits. This fee is the same for every visitor. 

NOT ONLY FOR ADULTS

My kids (at 10 & 12) both have their own cards and really enjoy visiting museums too.   Some can be very crowded on the weekends during the heavy tourist season like NEMO their favorite – so consider going on a Study Day when they are off school.    My kids haven’t done this but kids can become a “Museum Inspector” where they can tell about the museum during and after a visit. Completing the questionnaire, they let other children know how much fun they think this museum is for young people. The museums uses the answers to devise even better children’s programs. Plus they have a chance to win great prizes. Oh and there are games online too!

WHAT IF I DON’T LIVE IN THE NETHERLANDS?

If you don’t have a Dutch bank account or want the card asap, some museums allow you to buy a temporary card at the ticket desk.  The “temporary card” is valid for a month and only allows 5 museum visits. Dutch and EU residents can now officially register the temporary card (photo required) to upgrade to the full annual validity.  So with that said you could technically buy the card, use it 5 times and then re-sell it on for a discounted rate and someone, who lives locally, can then register it online for themselves. Once you register your “temporary pass”, you’ll receive a standard pass within five working day which will then be valid for one year from the date of purchase.  With Covid, some locations stopped selling in person – to limit person-to-person contact, so check before you go!

CAN WE JUMP THE QUEUE WITH A MUSEUMKAART?

Normally you just queue up as usual and present your museum card at the ticket desk. The Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum both have a fast-lane entry for Museumkaart holders though pre-booking online is mandatory; the Maritime Museum has a special desk for Museum cards and pre-booked tickets; at the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk you just get your museum card scanned at the main gallery entrance – no need to queue at the sales desk. Each time the Dutch government has shut down entry to the museums due to the lockdown/Covid restrictions, valid cards have been extended for the periods. In addition, to control the number of guests, pre-booking time slots have become mandatory.  Same day is fine for most museums. Some of the more popular ones – especially the Anne Frank House you should know that you have to book WELL IN ADVANCE. Your pre-booked ticket gives you a specific entry time. Museumkaart holders get free entry but need to pay a €0.50 fee during the online booking process. You only need to show the card (with ticket) when you arrive at the museum. Also one point to note: that many museums have online virtual viewing components now with COVID – click here for Anne Frank House.

MUSEUMS WE HAVE VISITED & PERSONALLY RECOMMEND

While I try to blog about my trips to the various museums, for one reason or another, I don’t always find time to update the blog. Some previously visited include Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Van Abbe in Eindhoven, Noord Brabants Museum in Den Bosch, Netherlands Open Air Museum in Arnhem, Photography Museum & Mauritshuis both in Den Haag and the Nationaal Militair Museum in Soest. Some also do not allow photography inside like the Anne Frank House which Maebh and I visited during our outing in Amsterdam.

Panorama Mesdag  – Den Haag
Philips Museum – Eindhoven
DAF Museum – Eindhoven
Van Gogh – Amsterdam
Royal Delft Museum
TU Botanic Gardens – Delft
Spoorweg Museum – Utrecht
Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) – Amsterdam
Groninger Museum – Groningen
NEMO Science Museum – Amsterdam
Museum Giethoorn – Giethoorn
Oorlogsmuseum – Overloon
Natuurmuseum – Tilburg
Louwman’s Museum – Den Haag
Naturalis – Leiden
Maritiem Museum – Rotterdam
National Monument Kamp Vught

HOW MANY MUSEUMS?

In this tiny country, there are over 480 museums, on almost every topic including water, science, WW2, cars and art and so much more. There are of course museum about sex industry, marijuana, houseboats and cheese – but those are not included in the free entry so you’ll have to pay an additional fee. Just having a look at the SMALL list below there are SOOO many more museums for you to make the most of your time in the Netherlands. I didn’t include them ALL but you can go on the site and search by region, subject – art, history, technical, etc and find what interests YOU! And if, like me, you sometimes need a bit of an incentive to get you out more (especially if it’s cold and wet), once you’ve bought the card, you really feel like you should make the most of it! If we visit a city we have never been, we try to combine it with a museum visit.

Amsterdam (and suburbs)

Rotterdam

Utrecht

Den Haag

Haarlem

Leiden

Other parts of the Netherlands

IS THIS A GOOD OPTION FOR TOURISTS?

For residents it offers a fantastic value over the course of the ENTIRE YEAR. The card is great for the ability to just pop into a museum for 30 minutes and visit a new exhibition – and you won’t feel the pressure to see everything.  The Museumkaart has always been aimed at the local Dutch market and never really been promoted for use by foreign tourists staying a few days.

That said, it is an option but if you are a tourist visiting Amsterdam for a couple days, I think you might find more value in one of the city passes:  iAmsterdam.com pass, Holland Pass or Amsterdam Pass all offer additional discounts which might suit you better like entry to Artis – the zoo, canal boat tours, bike rentals (if you dare) and SOME museums, etc.

Do you have a Museumkaart? What are some of your favorite museums here in the Netherlands which you have visited?

Spoorweg Museum Utrecht Netherlands Tile

Spoorweg Museum – Utrecht

It is the final week before school starts again (can I just say we all are very happy for back to school in our house?) so Maebh and I made plans to visit Primark and Miniso in the Hoog Catharijne Utrecht to get a few things before school started. As Den Bosch doesn’t have a Primark, we’ll take the train up to Utrecht no problem, but I thought why not do something fun in the city while we were there with both kids. Less than a month ago, I visited Utrecht and climbed the Dom with Funs – which was amazing but nothing that I’d like to do with the kids alone. So I thought why not take advantage of our Museumkaarts and visit the Spoorweg Museum while we were in Utrecht.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, if you live in the Netherlands [with or without kids], I can’t recommend enough that you get yourself a Museumkaart. The Spoorweg Museum is one of more than 400 museums that you enter with it. You just have to attend a few times a year and it pays for itself.  

HOW WE GOT THERE

At first I was just planning on taking the 10:08 train from Den Bosch Central to Utrecht Central and walking to the museum (I read it was about a 20 minute walk).  But I read there was an old fashioned station at the museum and that you can arrive by train – leaves every hour at 31 past the hour – so we adjusted our schedule a bit.   We took a train about 20 minutes earlier than previously planned in order to arrive into the Malibaan Station – I thought it would be fun and it was. 

 The museum is located at:

Het Spoorwegmuseum
Maliebaanstation 16
3581 XW Utrecht

Tickets are €17.50 per person over age 3 but Museumkaart holders are FREE.

After we walked back from the museum first the Jewish monument outside. It was a wall of names of the Jewish victims of the Second World War from Utrecht. The memorial wall is made from the sandstone that was also used for the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. In front of the wall was a plinth with a receiver on it. Ten Jewish men wear the shofar.

MALIEBAAN STATION

When you arrive by car or walk up to the museum, you enter through the impressive Maliebaan Station built in 1874.  The station is quite impressive and it is there were you buy your tickets at a lovely old-fashioned ticket booth.  You’ll feel like a passenger from that bygone era.  As we arrived via the Special NS train we went left into the museum and opt’d to visit the Maliebaan Station on the way out.    You could easily miss the station if you were to come in and out from the special NS train back to Utrecht Central which departs at 4 minutes to the hour throughout the day with the exception of the last train which departs at 17:11.  

WHAT IS MUSEUM ALL ABOUT?

Trains, trains and more trains.  It is one the city’s most renowned museums and makes for a great day out – especially for kids and of course any rail enthusiasts.

The museum is divided into the following sections:

1. The Great Discovery – Take a short but fascinating audio tour (Dutch, English or German) around the beginnings of the steam age in the Netherlands. The first railway line was Amsterdam-Haarlem which opened in 1839 using De Arend steam locomotive. It includes a mock-up of Amsterdam station from the time and a working replica of De Arend.

2. Dream Journeys – Discover how the well-to-do from the 19th century travelled in style by railway – such as taking a trip on the Orient Express from Paris to Constantinople (Istanbul) and on to Cairo. On show is a fine display of railway posters and leaflets from the time – including many advertising ferry/rail services between England and Holland.

3. Steel Monsters – A mechanical ride (max 4 persons per car) which takes you through the dark with the Gommers family, 3 generations who worked on the railways. You will experience close encounters with some giant steam trains. The narration is in Dutch only and the ride itself is a little tame.

4. Trains Through Time – Large exhibition hall which houses a comprehensive collection of old locomotives and carriages – from steam trains (19th century/early 20th century) to a variety of electric and diesel units from the 20th century. There is also various railway memorabilia on show and some models of Dutch trains.

SPECIAL EXHIBITION – TOASTIES TRUFFLES TRAINS   

There is a long history of food and drinks being served at the station and aboard trains. Luxurious restaurant cars in international trains served caviar and truffles to the elite.  So the Railway museum put together an exhibition showcasing just that.  They restored a historic restaurant car from 1951 and brought together a number of other fine restaurant cars, including several from Germany.  Together with never-before displayed items from the collection such as china, platform trucks, menus, photos and posters they created ‘Toasties Truffles Trains’ .  It was fun to walk through each train to see what it was like “back in the day” – some were more “retro than others”.   The kitchens were tiny – not sure how they made it work but they did. 

There is a dining tram in Rotterdam called the “RotterTram” which looks cool, which maybe one day we’ll do.  It’s quite pricy at €80 per person, so needs to be for a really special occasion to ride around a tram eating for that price.  I know loads of great places where we could eat for that (for two!).     

We had a lot of fun playing with the phone booth.

OUTSIDE PLAY AREA

Another highlight of the museum for kids is the outside play area.  There is a little floating boat which goes back and forth to a small island with a lighthouse…. our kids did it once but this along with the slides/caves are really great for kids who are 4-6.   That is the perfect age for this museum.  At 10 & 12 our kids were a bit old, but they always enjoy playing outside so did it.  There is also a little train that goes around which you have to queue for a while to get on.  With COVID, they have extra measures with less people so our kids skipped it due to the line, but they would clearly be the oldest on it. 

All in all they enjoyed the museum.  I’m glad we got to visit the museum and spend the day together as the three of us, but we don’t have to rush back any time soon as we saw all that we wanted. I would, however, recommend for any train lovers – especially kids who are fans aged 3-6 to certainly go and visit!!

Update: After doing a survey just now, I saw we mist a lot of hands-on stuff, so we’ll go back again in the near future!

WALKING AROUND UTRECHT

As we walked, I showed the kids a bit of Utrecht.  Not that I’m a pro, but Funs and I were just there a few weeks back  – see post “Day Out In Utrecht” so I had a good idea of things to show them – including the Letters of Utrecht which they thought was cool. They saw the Dom all wrapped in scaffolding and had a drink in the BadaBing before walking over to Hoog Catharijne to visit Primark. Unfortunately being late August, this store has not yet done the switch over so most of their stuff was still summer. Unlike other shops focusing on back to schools hopping, here was a mixture and nothing much of interest. So we ended up only getting her a Billy Eilish t-shirt and pair of jeans – which she is excited to wear the first day of school.

BONUS SURPRISE

After the tiny bit of “shopping” if you call it that – I took them to Dunkin Donuts. 

They were thrilled to be able to get a donut each – which they could pick from a large variety (different ones than what we have back home.   I am not a big fan of DD, but they are and I knew they’d love it.  They were thrilled and loved the little to go boxes for their €2.25 donut.  Check out those outrageous prices for Dunkins 🙂  

While I’m not quite sure they both found Utrecht as nice of a city as I think it is, but they are getting there.  Both still think Groningen is nicer – despite Utrecht being a larger student city.    Oh Soren went into the comic stores on the corner and came out 20 minutes later telling me he’d like to get into comics and then when he saw the pedal boats, he was very interested in those.  I reminded him of his boating skills and how he could be a skipper here as his part time job and showed him a photo of the trash boat which came down the canal while he was inside the comic shop. 

Maebh and I found it pretty cool – he had some great skills reversing the vessel. Soren, well he was not interested – said he’d rather be on a Whale Watch boat on Cape Code for the summer.  Good for me as I can visit one of my favorite places, Provincetown!

Kids Painting Workshop at the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

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Yesterday Maebh and I spent the day in Amsterdam having a mom and daughter day.  A highlight of our trip was the Kids Painting Workshop at the Van Gogh Museum.   Many weekends children between 6 and 12 can attend painting workshops in this world- famous museum.  It starts with a guided tour especially for children (in Dutch and English). This inspires them, then they do a workshop of painting and sketching and take home their masterpieces in a special box easy for transporting – we carried it around Amsterdam and on the train home.   Sessions cost €7.50 and there is a limit so do book in, if interested.

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Of course it’s not the original behind her!  In fact, you can tough this one.


The “theme” this week was frightening and scary.  Her work of art are below … which include CROWS and SKULLS.

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You can use the two hour duration of the workshop to visit the museum yourself or leave – whatever you want.   The entrance fees for adults is currently €19 but as I have my museumkaart it was free for me to enter.  I did pay €5 for a self-guided audio tour around the museum.    The last 10 minutes the parents are brought in and allowed to take photos and their session is explained.

She really enjoyed it so will be doing it again in the future for sure and if we go back with Soren, we’ll check out the Treasure Hunt!  We also visited the Anne Frank House today too – but you were not allowed to take photos inside so there is not too much to share.  

Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught

Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught

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Vught was chosen because it was close to Den Bosch, where various German head offices were. There was also a railway line, making it easier to transport prisoners.

SS CONCENTRATION CAMP IN THE NETHERLANDS

Kamp Vught is officially called: Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch (January 1943 – September 1944). It was not a “death camp” where Jews were massively killed.  Rather it was the main SS concentration camp in the Netherlands (other concentration camps are Schoorl, Amersfoort and Ommen). For many Jewish people, this was an intermediate station, as they were later transported to an extermination camps.   But it’s important to note that there were not only Jews in this camp, but also gypsies, gays, resistance fighters, political prisoners, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.

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Approximately 12,000 of these people were Jews, sent here before being sent to the death camps in Eastern Europe. The rest of Kamp Vught’s inmates were resistance fighters, political prisoners, Jehovah Witnesses, Roma, criminals, and a variety of others whom the Nazis deemed “unacceptable”. As with other camps, prisoners were forced to wear coloured triangles on their prison clothes to identify their category of ‘crime’.

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FREE AUDIO TOUR

When I visited, there were still doing some renovations to the site, which were not too bad as it is nearly done, but in exchange, they offered a FREE audio tour with a small device – I plugged in my headphones but you can hold the box to your head too – English, Dutch, French & German options.  [The tour is normally €2.50 per person]

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As you walk around, you see small boxes which you just tap with your device and it plays.  There are additional buttons (a) or (b) which give you more bonus information.    Personally, I loved the informative audio tour and the additional information.  

MUSEUM SET UP

The area is currently a museum is spread out over several buildings and outdoor areas. A model of the camp, made of natural stone, shows the extensive size of the camp and the many buildings it included.

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The watchtowers, which were built a hundred meters apart, have been reconstructed.

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The prisoners lived in barracks, over 400 prisoners per barrack. There was a bedroom here, a toilet room, laundry room and a dining room and washroom where they could wash once every 10 days!   The display barrack, rebuilt at half the original size, shows how the prisoners lived.

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There is also a crematorium, where the bodies of prisoners who died or were executed at the camp were burned.   Again, while it was not an extermination camp, around 750 people died due to hunger, sickness, and abuse.  Of these, 329 were murdered at the execution site just outside the camp.

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BUNKER DRAMA

The “bunker drama” is an example of the atrocities in the camp. When one of the women from barrack 23B was imprisoned in camp prison (the “bunker”), a number of women protested. Camp commander Grünewald ordered retaliation as many women as possible in one cell. In cell 115, 74 women were eventually squeezed together on an area of ​​nine m², with hardly any ventilation. On Sunday morning, January 16, 1944, the cell door opens after 2 p.m. Ten women did not survive the night. This drama soon became known outside the camp and was described in various resistance papers. The occupier finds it extremely annoying that the news has leaked out. Grünewald is sentenced to three and a half years by an SS judge. Himmler repeats this verdict and degrades Grünewald as a regular soldier. He joins his division again and is killed in 1945 in Hungary.

CHILDREN’S TRANSPORT

In June 1943, the Nazis decided there were too many Jewish children in Camp Vught. So they rounded up all the children under the age of 17 and sent them, along with those of their parents who chose to accompany them (most did), to Sobibor, where they were gassed. The names of these 1269 Jewish children are inscribed on the Children’s Monument. The youngest of these victims was only 6 days old when he was deported from Vught. When the train carrying him arrived for a stopover at Westerbork, he was so ill that he had to be taken to the hospital there, where he was placed on an incubator and assigned two private nurses. Two weeks later, when he had fully recovered, he was sent directly to the gas chambers at Sobibor.  Of all the Dutch Jews sent to Sobibor, only 18 adults survived and came back to tell their stories.

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EXECUTION AREA

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Located in the Vughtse Heide woods, at about a 15 minute walk from the museum.   Since I have small legs, it was more like 25 minutes!  

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Simply follow the path in the woods of the logo and you’ll come to a memorial erected that displays the names of the 329 prisoners who were executed at this site.  The walk back was more tricky and a few times I questioned which path to take – as I was literally alone in the woods – and only one time did I pass ONE other person.  It was a bit creepy to be honest, I hated this part!   My mind starts racing like a horror film and before you know it, I work myself up in my mind.

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The monument was installed in 1947 and unveiled by Princess Juliana.  Behind the monument is a large wooden cross, this cross was already posted as a tribute to the victims.

The original memorial wall bearing the names of these victims was vandalized with tar in the 1990s on the 50th anniversary of the Dutch liberation – never caught!  The defaced tablets are on display in the camp museum. Written on a wall above them is a poem in Dutch addressing those responsible for the act of desecration.

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The daubed plates are on display in boxes in the museum.

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At the gate to the monument someone pasted a poem in response to the defacing of the monument, this poem is placed in bronze on the gate too.

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A translation appears in the guidebook and spoken in the audio tour.

Could you paint tar
across stone, names, the past?
Pitiable fool, such names
can never be erased.
They are ingrained in countless
human souls, untouchable
by your foul hatred.
They are written in fire
in the skies, and their light
is insupportable to you.
You have accomplished nothing
Tarnisher
Above all you have only smudged
your own name.
Not theirs
They are smiling at your anger
bathing in light,
gently rocking on God’s breath.
And singing very softly and still
for those who want to hear:
Peace!

After my long walk in the woods, I returned, picked up my car and drove up the road to the Barrack 1B parking lot (tiny but as most people walk there was plenty of room).  I had to get the kids right after in MiniGestel camp, so didn’t want to have to go back again.

Barrack 1B

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Barrack 1B (Barak 1B) was opened after restoration in 2013; all information is bilingual: in English and Dutch. Barrack 1B is the last remaining barrack from Konzentrationslager Herzogenbusch: a unique war heritage site and remembrance site. The exhibition covers four periods: the concentration camp (1943-1944), the evacuation camp for German citizens from the border area (1944-1945) and the internment camp for NSB members, Dutch citizens suspected of collaboration, and imperial Germans (1944-1949).

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Watch a film which is part of this exhibition with English subtitles [22 minutes – can take some time to load].

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From 1951, part of the former camp was used as the Lunetten compound and it housed former troops from the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL in Dutch) and their families from the Moluccas. The stories of tens of thousands of people who were obliged to live here in past seventy years converge here at the Barracks 1B site. Stories that tell of doubts and hope, dreams and ideals. About conscious choices and chance, about traumas and taboos.

 

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PRESSURE OF THE ALLIED ADVANCE.

The camp was hastily evacuated by the occupying forces at the beginning of September 1944. Some 3,500 prisoners were quickly put on a transport to Germany, while the camp command sought a safe refuge. The Canadians entered the camp on 26 October 1944.

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Overall I found it very informative and am glad I had a chance to visit to learn more about the history on my doorstep.    Such awful events must never be repeated!

5263 NT is the location on Google Maps – but more details about location, price & time can be found on their website.  I used my Museumkaart . Not 100% sure if it is still the case but it used to be free to the public on the 1st Wednesday of each month.

NEMO Science Museum Amsterdam – Revisited.

We visited the museum one time before, but decided since our museumkaarts were renewed and we have one more week left of summer vacation we decided to head to a museum.   While I wanted to visit a new one, the kids really liked NEMO so we agreed and we were off on the 11:38 train bound for Amsterdam.   I am going to make sure our next museum visit is one that we have not already visited before. 

If you have ever been to Amsterdam, you’ve most likely seen the giant, green, odd boat-shaped building just east of Central Station. Those familiar with it might recognize it as NEMO Science Museum.

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NEMO is known country-wide as being THE science museum to visit.  We’d like to check out the Science Center in Delft too.  The 5-story building hosts a wide variety of interactive exhibits that will entertain young and old, all while teaching valuable lessons about science, technology, and their importance in everyday life.

We decided last minute to attend but it was packed – having only been there one other time, it was not as enjoyable this time due to how many people were here.  No matter how long you waited for your turn, the minute you started a child would come in and interfere – it was truly incredible and frustrating.   For example the bubbles, you wait and you start to pull up the bubble mix and immediately a kid starts blowing and it pops – or a hand goes in…  Our kids ask them nicely in Dutch and then in English in case they don’t understand – they continue…   or they leave a new one comes along.

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The line cutting, the overall lack of patience and respect for others – it was mind blowing.   This is just one example it – it happened ALL DAY LONG!   We agreed, it’s best to come on days when there is a school studiedag as there would not be as many people.  I cannot imagine what it would be like on a Saturday or Sunday – and we visited on a Friday.

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FENOMENA

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This area is full with sensational science we encounter every day like sound and movement.  Here you have the chance to create these phenomena for yourself and to see how they work. In doing so, you will discover the true nature of ordinary yet surprising natural phenomena like light, sound and static electricity.  This is also the floor that is most suitable for smaller children but at 9 & 11 our kids loved it as well.

They love the lightening globe – reminder DON’T TOUCH each other and the globe at the same time or you’ll get a small shock!

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This photo is 1/2 Soren & 1/2 Maebh

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Several times a day they show a 15 minutes show called  Chain Reaction which is moderated in Dutch and English.

TECHNIUM

There is the Water Power area here which Soren LOVEDoves – and when we were leaving he was pretty wet from building a dam and was pretty soaked!

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There is a very big machine with coloured balls that show you how a logistic process can work.  You can set off an order and see how the balls move around the machine and in the end reach their intended destination. In this area you can also visit the world of shapes, huge or tiny chairs to sit on, a big wheel that slowly turns and in which you can create beautiful patterns and a room where you can trick your brain, because small kids turn into giants and the other way around.   It took me a lot of patients to get photo of just my kids in the room – but it was worth it – funny photo to see Soren so small and Maebh big.

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ELEMENTA

You can find the exhibition: Life in the Universe. They have this huge screen where you can play a video game and protect the earth from dangers from outta space such as comets, meteorites and solar wind.   As you’ll see in the photos, the kids take a shield and hold them above their heads and their movement are shown on the screen as they run back and forth trying to block the earth and not hit each other.

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Kids of all ages loved this exhibition.  On the same floor is the LAB, but where it is always packed. But it does look like very cool experimentation are going on inside with everyone wearing a white lab coat and eye protection – I promised the kids next time we will get in line and wait.  I looked online later and doesn’t appear you have to book in for this – just wait in line.   There are other exhibitions which happen like Exciting Electricity which we didn’t go to – next time.

HUMANIA

This area was closed and a new exhibition would be opening in November 2019.

BRILLIANT BICYCLES

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This was a special exhibition until September 1st in the lowest level and we found it quite cool.  There were tables with equipment to make something yourself using inner tubes of bicycles.  I made a little bag – not an 100% original idea as I saw a previous person made one and left it hanging on the display, but mine had more details and was a bit nicer 🙂   Other people made people, key rings, bracelets and just a whole lot of nothing – just scissors and hole punching.    Maebh and I found it fun – Soren did it a bit but found more fun in exploring the exhibition.

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FOOD & DRINK

By the time 2 pm rolled around we were starving so went up to the top floor and ate the in main restaurant.   I had a veggie hummus sandwich, Maebh had a hotdog and fries and Soren had a carpaccio sandwich and fries – I even got a Hoegaarden on tap at the bar.   The total was €30 so not that bad.  All were delicious!  They do a good job with recycling bins asking guest to separate their items to waste, paper and plastic, but there is too much plastic – knives, forks, spoons & straws – they should use wooden utensils and get rid of the straws completely.  There are also 2 smaller cafés inside the museum where you can get drinks or enjoy a Dutch tostis, etc.  I did see a few people eating their sandwiches which they packed near the lockers.  On their site, they do say there are some areas set up with tables for you to bring your own lunch but not in the restaurants.  I would suggest you eat it outside on the roof and enjoy the views of the boats coming and going.

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BE SURE TO VISIT THE ROOFTOP

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Make sure you go up to the 5th floor and go out onto the sloped top roof. There you’ll have  lovely views of the city and outdoor exhibition called “energetica“ with wind- and water-sculptures.  Keep your ticket as you’ll need it to re-enter the building.    Also, this area is open to the public by steps along the edge so if ever in Asmterdam and don’t have time to visit the museum, you can still pop up for a drink at the bar or just a few minutes to take a few photos and check out the view.

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HELPFUL INFO

  • Check out their website before you go for opening times & what’s going on.  They are closed some Mondays!!
  • According to their calendar on their site, during summer holidays, weekdays are their busiest days.   Outside of school summer holidays, I’d say weekends are probably the busiest times.  Rush hour is between 12 and 2 pm because the early birds and the people that arrive later, overlap.   I’d say most people stay around 3 to 4 hours in the museum, so manage your time carefully.  It closes at 5:30 pm so if you have a museumkaart, go later in the day when the early birds are are already leaving and it will be less busy.
  • There are tons of lockers which are under video surveillance.  So no need to lug around your coats, bags, etc.  Some which fit foldable strollers, but you can leave bigger ones under the stairs.
  • There are different smaller lockers – ones with combinations which you set and they are free.  We found many struggling to figure out how they work.  So for those folks there are others where you put in €1 coin and take a key.  The coin is refunded when you are finished.  If you don’t happen to have a €1 coin – find a worker where you enter – they have some tokens in their pockets which they’ll ask you to return when done.
  • Ticket Prices: kids up to 3 years old are free!  3+ years, €17,50   If you live in the Netherlands and are going to visit museums – get yourself a Museumkaart!

 

 

Oorlogsmuseum in Overloon, Netherlands

 

Last Sunday, we visited the Oorlogsmuseum in Overloon.  In English – War Museum in Overloon.

 

The museum was opened on May 25th 1946, making it one of the oldest museums in Europe dedicated to World War II.  Located just miles from the German border, the Overloon Oorlogsmuseum is the largest war museum in The Netherlands. The museum is located where a World War II tank and infantry battle between Allied and German forces that occurred in September and October 1944, in the aftermath of Operation Market Garden.   More info on the liberation route can be found here too. The complex includes the National War and Resistance Museum as well as the Marshall Museum with its vast collection of more than 200 historic military vehicles.

In fact, many of the exhibited vehicles took part in the Battle of Overloon. In 2006 the collection was expanded with a large number of vehicles from a private collection.

The museum is set in 14 hectares of woodland.  It was the day of the MAJOR windstorm so we didn’t spend any time outdoors amongst the trees – so no idea what it was like beyond the pathway to the front door which did display some sculptures.   There was a climb structure above – not sure if that is something you can do alone or part of the museum, but as cars were blowing back and forth on the highway and later we saw trees were being uprooted, I’m glad we didn’t stick around to find out.

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A feature of the museum is the large number of military vehicles and equipment on display, both German and Allied forces. Apparently for many years they were kept in the open air, but have recently been moved indoors in order to help preserve them.  Never seen it before, I think it’s great as it is and couldn’t imagine visiting them outside.

The war museum building itself can be divided into two main areas:

Nationaal Oorlogs – A National War and Resistance Museum which is a traditional, multi-media museum covering various aspects related to the Second World War.

I found this part informational and sad at the same time – touching upon experiences of real people and families.  Almost all signs and descriptions are in Dutch, English and German.

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The section explains the run up to the Second World War from 1918 onwards – The Netherlands remained neutral during the First World War and was hoping for the same second time round. The Netherlands was overrun by the German army within days in May 1940 thus much coverage is given to the following occupation.   You can get more of this if you visit the Verzetsmuseum (Resistance Museum) in Amsterdam.

Displays show how pro-Nazi groups within the Netherlands were formed – terrible really!  And of course, more pan-European themes including the influence of propaganda,  the Holocaust, etc.

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Marshall Museum – a extra large indoor hall with around 200 military vehicles and other war equipment including tanks, shells, planes, etc.

Here so many military vehicles of all kinds are on display here with hardware from all nations. The majority of the vehicles, planes and boats are from the Second World War but a few items are older such as the Cold War period.

Some of the material is set up as if in a battlefield but generally the vehicles are packed in.   Special dioramas include the D-Day invasion of Normandy (this is what Bernie would LOVE) the battles of Arnhem and the Ardennes, and the Cold War era equipment used by the Warsaw Pact countries.  I personally found it nice, the kids found some things cool too  like the duck boats!

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As we left, we visited a film area called the Block Buster, where visitors experience an air raid.  We first spent a few minutes inside a plane dropping bombs over a city and taking fire, then we hear the noise and see the flashes from inside a town center, and finally spent a few minutes in an air raid shelter during the bombardment.  This is recommended towards kids 10+ as there were photos of dead bodies on the screen but we found it suitable for our nearly 9 year old. 

Overall it was interesting.  Personally,  I know my dad and my friend’s dad, Bernie, would LOVE to visit such a museum.   I think if either ever make a visit from Boston to the Netherlands, this place would be a place we’d recommend they visit.

Admission is €16.00 per adult and €11 per child but with our Museumkaarts – it is FREE!  I know I’ve mentioned before how much I love our Museumkaarts!

While there was a restaurant on site which looked good, but as they closed at 5 pm, we chose to visit a local place called Museumzicht Eetcafe & Pannekoekenjuis for a quick meal before heading back.  With the kids so hungry, the thought of having to prepare dinner after driving home, was not appealing.  When I was in the bathroom I saw that this place offers a dinner/museum entry combo which I thought was a nice thing.  Their guests were mainly older couples 65+ so perhaps they were there for an early bird special.  They have an outdoor terrace, nice wit beer on tap and an area for kids to play outside but as I mentioned above, it was dangerously windy so we were not going outside today!

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Plan your visit:

OVERLOON WAR MUSEUM
MUSEUMPARK 1
5825 AM OVERLOON

https://www.oorlogsmuseum.nl/en/home/