When you enter Teylers Museum, you get the feeling you’ve stepped back in time. At the Teylers Museum, art and science come together with a hint of magic. It’s not a museum for the modern age, but it is a museum for the modern imagination.
The Teylers Museum is the oldest museum in The Netherlands, dating from 1778. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, containing early inventions, fine art, old coins, geological specimens and a library. Much of the collection remains exactly as it was initially displayed. An audio tour is available, but many of the museums prized items are easily overlooked unless you know what you’re looking for.
Much care has been put into the building, the displays and the maintenance throughout the museum’s history. The Teylers Museum has been a labour of love for more than 230 years.The museum is named after Pieter Teyler van der Hulst, a wealthy Haarlem manufacturer and banker. Deeply interested in science and the arts, he left his fortune to a foundation that would promote both. The executors of his estate decided to build a museum for his collection.
It started small, just a cabinet of books and art behind Teyler’s former residence. Its most recognizable and spectacular “Oval Room” opened in 1784, and it continued to grow to include library and art collections, a new entrance, new gallery and educational space.One of the things that makes this museum unique is that it’s lit by natural sunlight. Every room has its own personality, but somehow they seem like they belong together in this special space.
The library can be visited by appointment only, but special exhibitions are always on display in the rare book room. The library is a beautiful and peaceful place, and it’s worth making an appointment if you love books. Shelves on two levels are full of books on botony, zoology, earth sciences and scientific expeditions.If you know anything about fossils, you might find a few treasures in Fossil Rooms I and II. The collection began when the sciences palaeontology and mineralogy were just emerging. The displays remain much as they were at the beginning. Notice what catches your eye – some of these objects are quite beautiful, some catch the sunlight, some hide in the shadows. The feeling of the rooms changes with the sun and the clouds. The Instrument Room houses a collection of weird and wonderful scientific instruments, many acquired by the museum’s first director. These were used for public demonstrations in the Oval Room. The main showpiece is the world’s largest electrostatic generator. Napoleon even paid a visit to the Teylers to see the battery. If you like history, science or art, Teylers Museum might be the perfect place to spend an afternoon browsing and daydreaming. At Teylers Museum, you can visit a place unique to Haarlem where history stands still just for you.
More information about the Teylers Museum can found at http://www.teylersmuseum.nl/en. Following the popular “Real Winter” exhibition, a new spring exhibition celebrating contemporary art runs March 18, 2016 to June 12, 2016.
This article has been previously published at http://www.travellingshus.com/blog/2016/3/19/teylers-museum-of-curiosities-and-other-treasures