A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Last Saturday I visited the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, a museum I had heard about both from friends who had already visited it as well as in a museology course of my research master’s programme in heritage at the Faculty of Archaeology, and it was a great experience.
Its collection of fossils, crystals, scientific instruments and art is large and impressive, but what truly makes it unique is that the design and display of its rooms has not changed since they were created. The objects are exhibited in their original 18th and 19th century cabinets and the rooms are still only illuminated by daylight.
This makes the experience of visiting the Teylers as a trip to the past, where you can visit a museum as they used to be, with rooms full of wonders just like in the times of the Enlightenment, or presenting the latest scientific discoveries made possible by the then-newest instruments, measuring aids, and calculating devices of the late 19th century.
The Teylers Museum is the first and oldest museum in the Netherlands, having been open to the public since 1784. It was founded by the wishes of Pieter Teyler, a cloth magnate and banker who in his will indicated the creation of a foundation to make his personal collection available to the public and to promote the study and education of sciences and art. Since then, the museum acted as public knowledge institution which housed numerous scientific and artistic collections, serving as an important space of learning as well as a meeting place for scholars. Today, the museum offers an opportunity to step back in time and experience the atmosphere of a museum from bygone times.
The impressive oval room is the highlight of the museum due to its beauty and elegant architecture, but also because it is the last remaining 18th century museum interior in the world. I particularly liked the crystal collection displayed in it. Besides this, I also enjoyed the fossil and scientific instrument rooms, as well as the coin collection.
The temporary exhibition ‘200 Kinds of Green. Botanical art of Franz and Ferdinand Bauer’ about the work of the very talented Austrian botanical illustrator brothers from the late 18th and early 19th centuries was stunning. Seeing the amount of detail in every watercolour piece up close was really a privilege, but unfortunately the exhibition ended the day after my visit.
I really recommend the Teylers Museum for all natural history, science, art and history lovers. Haarlem is only 20 minutes away from Leiden by train and it is also a beautiful city to spend the day. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and the entrance fee is €14, they do not have student discounts, but in my opinion the price is worth it.