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Where Bible, art and culture meet in a monument full of history.
Why do we get days off at Christmas, Easter and Whitsun? We enjoy delicious food on such days, and sometimes we even exchange presents. But why? What are we celebrating? And which holidays are celebrated in my city? The answers to these and many other questions can be found in the permanent family exhibition, ‘Holiday! In the City.’
In the museum, children and adults together discover the meaning of Christian and other religious holidays and how they are celebrated. They do so with reference to special objects and stories. Children from the city also explain which holidays they celebrate and what these mean to them.
In one of the oldest museums is Amsterdam you will find models of temples, constructed with the utmost precision from precious materials, show how scholars through the ages have sifted through the tantalising clues given by archaeological finds and biblical texts in their attempts to solve the mystery of the design and appearance of the ancient temple of Solomon and Herod. The model of the Tabernacle, commissioned by the founder of the Biblical Museum, the Rev Leendert Schouten, is justly world-famous. This 19th century reconstruction of the portable shrine built by the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt was made as much as possible using the materials mentioned in the Bible. The awning, for example, was woven from goat’s wool which Schouten had specially imported from Syria, and the sand which surrounds it was brought from the Sinai desert.
The Biblical Museum houses Egyptian artefacts collected by Leendert Schouten in the 19th century. They were intended for display around the Tabernacle to give visitors an impression of the religious life of the ancient Egyptians. In addition to steles (inscribed stone slabs), shabtis (funerary figurines), canopic jars (for storing mummified remains), scarabs (sacred beetle emblems), statues of the gods and a sarcophagus, the collection includes a complete mummy of a young woman.
Since the 19th century archaeological discoveries have played an increasingly important role in biblical studies. Oil lamps, clay tablets, earthenware, shards of pottery and coins help to bring the biblical world to life.
The collection of Bibles includes the oldest Bible printed in the Netherlands, dating from 1477, and a first edition of the 1637 Dutch Authorised Version. Centuries-old Bibles tell the fascinating and sometimes hair-raising tale of the translation, printing and distribution of Bibles: a history which is closely interwoven with the development of the Netherlands as an independent state and the evolution of the Dutch language.
The Biblical Museum is located on the top floor of one of the most beautiful canal-side houses in Amsterdam: the Cromhouthuis.
The renovated Cromhout Museum, which opened its doors recently on 24 March 2016, tells the story of the illustrious Cromhout family, who lived in the houses on Herengracht 366-368 for almost two centuries. Today their houses are just as impressive and distinguished as they were in the Golden Age.
Family, power, wealth, and interiors: these are the themes of the renovated Cromhouthuis Museum on Herengracht. The majestic house, the largest of the four houses that the architect Philips Vingboons designed for the family, was built in 1661 and commissioned by Jacob Cromhout (1608-1669). The painting on the ceiling in the Large Salon is the work of Jacob de Wit; it was commissioned by a grandson of Jacob Cromhout. It is a reminder of one of Amsterdam’s wealthiest families in the 17th and 18th centuries.
As you stroll through the various rooms, you will discover the story of seven generations of the Cromhout family, learning about their influence on Amsterdam and on the city’s cultural and artistic life, about their immense wealth, their faith and the many international contacts they maintained. The history of the Cromhout dynasty is full of ‘ups and downs’ and unexpected turns. During the Golden Age, they moved among the highest social circles of Amsterdam. Various descendants held the office of mayor, assuring the family’s continued power and influence in the city. For example, they took a leading role in the extensions to the Canal Belt and the reclamation – or impoldering – of the Beemster.
The stylists’ collective The Wunderkammer was responsible for the contemporary arrangement and furnishing of the rooms, for which they were able to draw on the collection of the Amsterdam Museum. Portraits, furniture, silver, shells and other curios form a remarkable visual picture, bringing the history of the Cromhout family to life.