was built around 1550 and was Edam’s first stone-built merchant’s house. It was a particularly “rich” house for Edam at that time [The Dutch expression for wealth is “stone-rich” due to the scarcity and cost of stone]. The stone window frames in the facade, the walls of brick and a stone floor are unusual for the time.
In 1893 the building had become very dilapidated and was purchased by the local council, to be converted into a museum. The property was restored by the architect Dr. Pierre J. H. Cuypers who known for, among other things, his designs at the Rijksmuseum and Central Station in Amsterdam, facilitated by Victor de Stuers, in his position as Deputy Minister of Arts and Sciences.
Cuypers (seated) and de Stuers
The oldest stone house in Edam is impressive in its prominent location on the Damsluis [the lock]. On August 8, 1893, the house was publicly auctioned after the last owner died. Since there was a real risk that the building would be demolished, it was bought by the council, although it had to take out a loan to do so.
The director of the municipal Art and Technical Drawing School was offered the upper floors as (temporary) accommodation for his family.
Cuypers proposed facade decorations, including: pinnacles (left and right) and a bear at the top of the stairs with the Edam city coat of arms.
The house was initially set up as an urban museum in 1895, although it was already ambitious to become a Waterlands Museum, representing not just the town but the surrounding areas.
Alderman W.J. Tuyn, also director of the Edams Museum from the start, wrote in 1896 a detailed article in the editions 25 and 26 of Eigen Haard [a science and arts magazine], giving the first tour of the building after the opening.
Click on the image to read the text (currently only available in Dutch).
Towards the end of the 1500s,after the end of the Late Gothic era in the Low Countries, people developed a new focus, known as ‘Mannerism’ or ‘Dutch Renaissance’. Examples of this architectural style can be found in Amsterdam (Hendrik de Keyser: Noorderkerk, Westerkerk).
In this merchant’s house in Edam we unmistakably recognize the Renaissance style, similar to houses such as the Silveren Spiegel [Silver mirror] in Amsterdam, and in the wealth of lead glass panes and bull-blood-red shutters.
In the 1950s, the Edams Museum was once again thoroughly restored by the architect C.W. Royaards, then chief architect of the National Office for the Care of Historic Buildings.
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The stone-built, merchant’s house
- The front of the house, furnished as a fabric shop
- The living or back house including the kitchen, floating cellar and the sleeping quarters above
- The extended back of the house, a “beautiful room” added later
- The first floor, with a collection of Edam’s maritime history
- The second floor or attic, with a collection of various religions from Edam
1. The front of the house was used in the 17th century as both a shop and reception area. It has been configured to illustrate the trade in ‘Silk fabrics and precious cloths”. (Click for the original document plus English translation). The room is high and light and has a certain aura. The goods were sold from hatches on the open shutters.
A number of utensils from the Middle Ages are displayed in the reception area, such as a offertory or collection box and a blanket box.
Photo Rene Beekvelt
2. At the back of the house are the kitchen, on the ground floor, with two bedrooms above containing three original bed boxes.
Although people used to be much smaller even then the bed boxes were too small for them to stretch out. They slept half-seated against a good number of pillows. Lying flat was considered frightening and reminiscent of death. At an unguarded moment if sleeping flat, death could actually come to get you.
A poignant painting hangs in one of the bedsteads: Child on Death Bed, 1664.
3. At some point, the house was extended to the rear and a stylish room was created facing the garden. This room contains a number of paintings and distinctive souvenirs brought back to the Netherlands by merchant sailors, including a … crocodile.
4. Merchandise (including potatoes for a while) was stored on the first and second floors. Here can the architectural construction be inspected: corbels and tree-sized ceiling beams not only support the former storage rooms, providing gnarled robust shelter over turbulent centuries, but also visually envelop the visitor. On the first floor, where the permanent collection has a predominantly maritime character, there is a 3m long painting: The shipbuilder Osterlingh, by Jan Moolenaar, 1682, in which the Edam ship-builder proudly shows the 92 ships built in his shipyard.
Old maps and paintings show the origins and maritime importance of Edam (Click for the original document plus English translation). One of the most significant artefacts is a model of a boat, on loan from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn.