Located within the historic city center of Enkhuizen, the Zuiderzee Museum is a Dutch cultural and maritime history museum preserving the history of the former Zuiderzee region, offering a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits and attractions.

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The town of Enkhuizen is also known as Haringstad, which means “herring town” and refers to the city’s history as a central fishing port within the Netherlands. The Zuiderzee bay’s waters were known for their populations of herring, anchovies, eels, smelt, and red perch. In 1932, the Zuiderzee bay was closed off as the result of construction of the city’s Afsluitdijk barrier dam, which split the waterway into the southern IJsselmeer and the northern Waddenzee. Two years prior to the waterway’s closing, an exhibition known as the Zuiderzee Visscherij Tentoonstelling, or Southern Sea Fishing Exhibition, was displayed along the sea wall, showcasing cardboard recreations of fishing houses and costumed interpreters portraying regional fishermen. Plans to construct a proper museum facility were put on hold following the rising threat of World War II and were not reinstated until 1949, when the museum’s first exhibit was installed within the 16th-century Drommedaris defensive tower within the bay’s harbor. Following the first exhibit’s success, the museum obtained a number of warehouses located along the Wierdijk that had formerly belonged to the seed company Sluis and Groot for the development of more exhibits.

Permanent Exhibits and Collections

Today, the Zuiderzee Museum is owned and operated by the Dutch government as a public museum facility. The museum showcases the maritime, fishing industry, and cultural history of the Zuiderzee bay region. Indoor and outdoor exhibit areas are offered, along with several restaurants and a variety of cultural reenactments and demonstrations. Indoor exhibits are open year-round, while outdoor exhibits are available between Easter and late October.

The museum’s indoor portion, which was opened in July of 1950, is located within several 17th-century waterfront buildings and features a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions related to aspects of regional cultural and maritime life. The museum’s Ship’s Hall permanent exhibit showcases a large collection of historic wooden ships, including the Sperwer sparrowhawk boeier, a Midzwaardjacht centerboard, a Marken botter, a Frisian hunting boat, and an ice boat. An audiovisual installation by artist Arnout Hulskamp is showcased, featuring images of storms and calm times on the Zuiderzee’s waters. In the Journey Around the Zuiderzee exhibit, a large number of artifacts connected to the region’s cultural history are displayed, including household and civic items connected to the Great Ijsselmeer Dam, the Wadden Sea, the villages of Nunspeet and Spakenburg, and the provinces of Friesland. Major artifacts on display include the 18th-century Assendeftler kast, a chest with scenes depicting the Old Testament prophet Elijah, and a variety of local klederdracht costumes.

Until 1970, the area that now comprises the museum’s outdoor exhibits was used for storage, but during the 1980s, a large outdoor exhibit was developed to recreate the atmosphere and buildings of the former Zuiderdee fishing culture. The exhibit, which opened in 1983, showcases buildings relocated from areas as far north as Groningen and as far south as the island of Wieringen to create a replica of the former Marken harbor. Replica buildings, such as the Siberie house and a replica of the island of Marken’s wharf, are also showcased. Structures on display include windmills, lime kilns, steam laundries, and fish-smoking houses, along with civic buildings such as blacksmith shops, schoolhouses, pharmacies, and cheese warehouses. Throughout the spring and summer months, costumed reenactors offer presentations of typical historic Dutch activities, including crafts such as basket and rope making, cooperage, and herring smoking. Visitors can learn to tie their own knots, weave nets, make jumping ropes, and play a variety of historic traditional Dutch games.

Several restaurants are offered on the museum’s grounds, including the Hindeloopen Café, which offers coffee, tea, and pastries, the Amsterdam House self-service buffet, and the Hoorn Coffee House, which offers rental accommodations for group and business lunches. On weekends throughout the year, the outdoor exhibit’s Ice Cream and Chips Shop serves famous homemade chips and ice cream produced by Lutjebroek’s Moois social care farm. Shops within the museum complex include a cheese warehouse, a baker’s shop, a sweet shop, and a museum gift store.

Ongoing Programs and Education

In addition to standard visitor admission, group rates are offered for small groups and organizations of 15 or more participants, including curriculum-incorporated field trips for primary and secondary students. A variety of annual events and programs are offered by the museum, including a Guitar Festival, a Maritime Festival, an Old Dutch Fair, and a Harvest Weekend celebration. The facility’s venues may also be rented for private special events, including weddings and business events.

Wierdijk 12 - 22, 1601 LA Enkhuizen, Netherlands, Phone: +31-2-28-35-11-11

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