A Daytrip from Amsterdam
Netherlands Open-Air Museum at Arnhem
Outdoor folk museums have become increasingly popular in Europe and throughout the world as more of the countryside succumbs to modern development and the traditional ways of life disappear. In many cases they are the only realistic way of saving a nation's domestic heritage from being paved over to make way for yet more shopping malls. Typically, threatened structures ranging from thatched farm cottages to early industrial buildings are moved into a protected park setting and reassembled in village groupings according to the region they represent. Trained personnel, often in folk costumes, carry on the old crafts and farm the fields in the traditional way, while reconstructed country inns continue to serve age-old recipes. A visit to one of the better open-air museums can be a lot of fun, and may be the only chance you'll ever get to experience some aspects of the Old World.
There are several open-air museums in Holland, notably at Zaanse Schans and Enkhuizen, but this one, at Arnhem, is by far the largest and most complete. Spread over an area of about 75 acres, it was begun in 1912 and now contains roughly 100 structures. All of these have been restored to their original appearance, and many are filled with period furnishings. Besides the farmhouses and barns, there are workshops, windmills, bridges, inns, a school, a church, and even some urban buildings.
The museum suggests several routes; the one described here is a modified version of them. In addition to walking, there are historic trams operating all over the park that you can ride. At the entrance pavilion is a special exhibition called the HollandRama, showing regional costumes and historical material. Food and drinks are offered at several places along the way, as are rest rooms.
By getting off to an early start, it is entirely possible to combine this trip in the same day with one to the Hoge Veluwe National Park with its famous Kröller-Müller Museum. This is described in the next chapter. To do this by public transportation, you must first return to the bus stop in front of the Arnhem train station. Those with cars can drive directly there.
Trains leave Amsterdam's Centraal Station frequently for the 68-minute ride to Arnhem. A few require a change at Utrecht. In addition to the regular IC expresses, there are slightly faster ICE trains that require a supplementary fare. Return service operates until late evening. Schedules at W: ns.nl.
By Car, head south from Amsterdam on the A-2 highway past Utrecht, then take the A-12 east to the Arnhem-Apeldoorn exit and follow local signs to the Openlucht Museum. The total distance is 99 km (62 miles).
The museum is open daily from April through October, with a variable winter season. Good weather is essential for enjoyment of this trip. The Tourist Office in Arnhem (VVV), T: (0900) 1122344 (toll call) or W: vvvarnhem.nl, is at Stationsplein 13, by the station.
FOOD AND DRINK:
There are several places to eat and drink at the outdoor museum as well as restaurants and cafés in Arnhem. Some choices are:
AT THE MUSEUM:
Café (at the entrance pavilion) Sandwiches and light refreshments. €
De Hanekamp (near the far end) Pancakes and snacks. €
Kasteeboerderij (by the lake) A self-service restaurant with full meals. € and €€
Hotel Haarhuis (1 Stationsplein, across from the station) Good-value meals in a small hotel. (026) 442-7441. €€
Numbers in parentheses correspond to numbers on the map.
The easiest way to get from the Arnhem Train Station to the open-air museum is to take bus number 3 in the direction of Alteveer. During the summer months there is also the direct bus number 13. Both depart fre-quently from the square in front of the station, and the ride takes 10 minutes. Otherwise, it's a 2½-mile taxi ride or walk.
*NETHERLANDS OPEN-AIR MUSEUM (Nederlands Openlucht Museum) (1–18), Schelmseweg 89, Arnhem, T: (026) 357-6111 or W: openluchtmuseum.nl. Open April through October, daily 10-5, variable schedule in winter. Museum Card accepted. €€€, includes HollandRama. Historic trams provide transportation in the park. An illustrated guide booklet in English is sold at the gate.
At the entrance (1) is an exhibition pavilion called HollandRama, where you can see regional costumes, historic material, and special shows in a multimedia spectacular. Just beyond this turn left and stroll down to the Horse-Drawn Oil Mill (2) from the province of Gelderland. Converted from a farmhouse around 1830, it was used to extract lighting and cooking oils by crushing seeds such as rape or flax. Close to this is a small thatched-roof Veluwe Farmhouse (3) from around 1850, whose furnished interior may be visited.
The route now passes a small exhibition of beekeeping on the way to the Betuwe Farmhouse (4), a rather large structure originally built in 1646. Also from Gelderland Province, it has an attached barn and a nicely-furnished interior.
Return past the bees and turn left to the romantically sited Farmhouse from Giethoorn (5) (photo, top of page), which of course is partially surrounded by water. Built in 1832, much of it was used for the storage of hay, with attractive living quarters at one end. Down the road from it stands the large Staphorst Farmhouse (6), a type still found in that conservative part of Holland. Most of this is devoted to the storage of hay, but the small living quarters are beautifully decorated with tiles and painted furniture. Behind it is the Farmhouse with a Pyramid Roof, erected in 1745 in North Holland province, and associated with the making of Edam cheeses.
The route now enters a small village over a typical wooden drawbridge (photo, above) from around 1800. The Merchant's House (7) from Koog on the Zaan (near Zaanse Schans) partially dates from 1686 and has the sort of com-fortable interior favored by the 19th-century bourgeoisie. Adjacent to this is a tradesman's house from the same area, which now serves as a souvenir shop.
Turn left and stroll through the village to the Fisherman's Cottage from Marken (8), which is similar to the ones you find today on the island in the IJsselmeer just north of Amsterdam. Its tiny interior has excellent exam-ples of the traditional cupboard beds then popular in the north.
Continue on past an early-!9th-century Laundry (9) that was brought here from an area near Haarlem. Close to it is a refreshment stand, where you can take a break before admiring the unusual Post Windmill (10). This was once used to grind grain in North Holland, and parts of it are over 300 years old.
The Paper Mill from the Veluwe (11) (photo, above) is in a beautifully wooded location between two ponds. Powered by an overshot waterwheel, its mechanisms still work and are used to give demonstrations of hand paper-making.
Although it is a re-creation and not an original, the Parlor from Hindeloopen (12) is quite interesting for the stylized painted furniture that has come to be associated with that former Zuider Zee town.
Now follow the map past the lovely Herb Garden to the Frisian Farmstead (13), whose rather elegant living quarters reflect the prosperity of that dairy region. Near this is the Farmhouse from Beerta (14), an area in Groningen province. Its living section has been restored to the state it was in around 1935, after electrification provided such luxuries as lighting, kitchen appliances, and a radio. In contrast, the Drenthe Farmhouse (15) is a large but rather primitive affair dating from around 1700.
Continue on to the De Hanekamp Inn (16), an 18th-century country inn from Zwolle. It now functions as a delightful café for museum visitors, with both indoor and outdoor tables.
Limburg province, in the south and much hillier than the rest of Holland, is represented by the Krawinkel Farmstead (17) and other nearby structures. From here the route passes a grouping of various Windmills (18) (photo, left) on the way back to the entrance.
Text, map, and drawbridge photo copyright © 2006 by Earl Steinbicker, updated to 2009.
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