Heimatmuseum Borkum: variety, wealth, surprise

The Heimatmuseum in Borkum
is larger and richer than you’d expect on a small island. Borkum is one of the Wadden islands in the north of Germany and houses just some thousands of inhabitants. The Heimatmuseum (Homeland museum) gives a very interesting overview of it’s history and socio-economic life. You learn about the history of whalers, find a full whale skeleton and of course the famous little seals, see a complete room, kitchen and laiterie like they had in the old times; but apart from that, there are many great, even amazing artefacts that tell you maybe even more about life in Borkum. This was a museum that gave me much more than I expected when I entered. It is impossible to resume, so I show you here the artefacts that impressed me most:

Unique sand collection: every little box contains sand from a different part of the world. The cupboard has two sides, filled with all colors and structures of sand. This exhibit changes your idea about sand forever…


A garland made out of the hair of the deceased… Elsewhere in the museum, jewelry made out of female hairs can be found. My mouth fell open; I find it a bit spooky but here it seems to be a piece of art. One thing is sure, the results are beautiful!


A 18th century cistern where water was collected both from the rain and from groundwater. It is big and covered with Dutch blue painted tiles who were valuable already in that era so the owner must have been very rich. The cistern kept the water cool and fresh. It is quite unique, no other cistern like this was found in the north of Germany.


A 19th century bucket that served to collect the household money. It hang at a beam in the kitchen. That is what attracted my attention; that there were times where people hang their money in a bucket in the kitchen…. I liked the idea that it was safe there, out in the open!

Last but not least, two things that particularly caught my attention: one not positive, one very positive. Let’s start with the difficult one: the museum shows several artefacts from the Nazi period: price winning objects with swastikas; a document about a given price (Kriegsverdienstkreuz), signed by Führer Hitler himself. It was exposed partly hidden behind binoculars (?) but clearly visible.

There might be reasons to expose this kind of artefacts but at least some explanation is needed. Nothing in this museum suggests that Borkum is not proud of this part of the past….
Now the positive artefact, it goes back to 1579 and was found at the beach of Borkum in 1971: a silver coin that was made in Hedel, the Netherlands which is….  the village where I was born. There is a long story to tell about coins from my native village Hedel … another time… For now: I was – happily – surprised to find this particular coin so far away from home. It proves that you will never know how far the things you make can reach, and that the extent to what it reached can be observed until centuries afterwards… so great!

As said, this is just a small selection of what the Heimatmuseum Borkum has to offer. If you go to that Island, do not leave without paying it a visit.