Museum van Loon Amsterdam

Portrait of Wilhelmine and Henriette van Loon 1826, by A.j. Dubois-Drahonet
Portrait of Wilhelmine and Henriette van Loon, by A.j. Dubois-Drahonet 1826

Museum Van Loon is a special canal house in Amsterdam built in 1672 and owned by the Van Loon family since 1884. The visit is a mixed experience of beauty, amazing details and an overdose of portraits. Did people actually live here, is a question coming up when walking around.

museum van loon

Many rooms are beautiful in Museum Van Loon. This photograph is the Blue Saloon on the ground floor. The woman with the red dress is Thora van Loon-Egidius who worked for Queen Wilhelmina. The museum shows more royal connections of the Van Loon family during the ages.

More recently, President Obama had dinner in the dining room of Museum van Loon when he visited Amsterdam. These kind of high profile contacts are clearly very important for the Van Loon family, but they do not communicate why. This leaves the visitor with the impression that it is about ‘belonging’, being part of societal circles as a value in itself.

museum van loon insignia

Intriguing is the fact that the insignia of Van Loon has 2 black heads in it and they do not know where that came from. Ancestor Willem van Loon was one of the co-founders of the VOC in 1602. The black heads were added later to the original 15ht century insignia of the three crosses (‘mill irons’) and suggest a link with slavery and colonialism.

But a fundamental explanation has not been found yet. Museum Van Loon is open about the family’s connections with slavery in the 18th and 19th century and had a big project on the subject – keeping the details for an online visit here: https://www.museumvanloon.nl/programma/archief/120.

When I entered the sleeping room – the Sheep Room – I felt cosiness and private life for the first time. Much of the canal house is beautiful but impersonal. The Sheep Room is different; a place where humans live and enjoy themselves – maybe also because of the bookshelves and the fact that chaos is more dominant than order there.

Some particular highlights I like to show you here:

museum van loon red saloon

The Red Saloon, an amazing room full of portraits.

The most recent portraits of women in the family – they chose a different style, very nice.

museum van loon kitchen

The kitchen – just adorable

museum van loon garden

The garden, at the ‘back side’ of the canal house.

museum van loon koets

The char-à-bancs from the begin of the 20th century that was used for pleasure drives. Imagine that you sit in there or maybe even drive it yourself over the romantic canals of Amsterdam!

museum van loon stairwell

The stairwell that has its own particular charm.

All in all, I am not sure what to think of Museum Van Loon and that is maybe why I recommend a visit; it is intriguing, an elitist impression in an egalitarian city, a place where human touch has a challenge to break through the stiff upperlip while all seem to mean well.

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