Arnhem’s Openlucht Museum wins the 2009 BankGiro Loterij Museumprijs

Testing out the old Dutch cupboard beds at the Openlucht Museum in Arnhem

The BankGiro Loterij is the cultural lottery in the Netherlands. Each year, in association with Prince Bernhard Cultuurfonds, the BankGiro Loterij selects one museum as the recipient of the Museumprijs (museum award) and €100,000. Each year has a different theme. In 2008, the category was archeological museums. For 2009, judges were looking for museums with the goal of making Dutch history accessible to both children and adults.

This year’s winner is the Openluchtmuseum  (Open Air Museum) in Arnhem. The museum’s director Pieter-Matthijs Gijsbers is elated by the outcome: “We are a museum of Dutch for all Dutch. I would like to warmly thank all those who voted for us.”

Jury members praised the museum for it’s success in representing the culture of Dutch daily living through hands-on activities, displays, and shows. The museum’s aim is to bring Dutch folk life and traditions to life in an outdoor setting.

Established in 1912, the museum is due to celebrate 100 years in 2012. In 1987, the Dutch government prepared to shut down the museum, but a flood of visitors on the day it was set to close forced the government to leave it open. Wise move as the museum is still popular today and was also awarded the European Museum of the Year in 2005.

In May 2009, I had the pleasure of visiting the Openluchtmuseum. Luckily, although the weather was threatening before we left, it turned out to be a beautiful day. We saw a live weaving demonstration, walked through a sea of windmills, strolled through their beautiful gardens, saw the interiors and exteriors of 17th century Dutch homes and farms, chugged free samples at their onsite brewery, and I even got to test out a typical Dutch cupboard bed! If you go, be sure to take a look through some of the quaint little shops and have some of their sensational poffertjes for lunch.

You can get into the Openluchtmuseum for free with a Museumkaart. Entry is €14,00 for adults and €9,80 for children ages 4-12. Children 3 and under get in for free. You can even bring Fido along! The museum is open from April 1 through November 1 from 10am-5pm.

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