Zuider Zee Museum Enkhuizen

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A little more catching up from the Dutch trip a few weeks ago. The Zuiderzee Museum is somewhere I’d visited about 10 years ago and always wanted to go back to. I’d thought that really it would be easier to visit by car but in fact it is perfectly feasible with public transport as a day trip from Amsterdam. It’s worth setting off early enough in the morning though, because you will need plenty time to do the museum justice. The best way to approach the museum is to take the train to Enkhuizen and then look for the ferry that will take you over to the musuem. You can get there on foot but arriving by water adds to the atmosphere.

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(If you have a museum card you will get in free. And even if you are not resident in the Netherlands , if you are there for more than a couple of days and plan some intensive museum visiting, the card will pay for itself very quickly. All the big musuems are included – you can get one on the spot at most museums. ) One other tip – the whole museum is only open during the warmer half of the year, so save your visit until then.

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I didn’t realise that it was only established in the 60s – it feels much older than that. Houses have been brought here lock stock and barrel from various places around the Zuider Zee ,including from an island that became land locked once the Ijselmeer was completed. There are photos showing some of the complete houses being wheeled along on trucks or winched off ferrys. They are laid out in little clusters to represent an island community or a town centre around a church. The special charm is reinforced by the costumed characters who do a very good job of staying in their role even under quite thorough questioning.

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This time it was the interiors that struck me particulary. Probably as I was still in an interior design kind of mood after visiting the Woonbeurs/ Home Show. I noticed a lot of deep greens as well as the bright blues that pop up in many early decorating styles. I had a vague memory that the blue served a particular purpose and one of the costumed “locals” told me that the colour came from the addition of laundry blue and was considered mildly antibacterial. Also, with out our masses of modern “stuff” there is a simplicity to many of the interiors which is very calming. I know life was hard in that era and many of our modern possessions make life easier,but still, I think we can take a leaf out of their book in terms of simplicity and functionality.

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There were also a few locations within the museum where contemporary craftspeople and artists had been invited to create work. One example of this was a room that had been decorated entirely in the style of Delft tiles – the walls and even the radiator. This little side table also got the tile treatment – that would be a fun project to have a go at !

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