Willet-Holthuysen House Museum

IMG_1852Amsterdam has so many museums but we tried our best to see as much as possible and did manage to avoid museum burnout.

We were actually on the way to Amsterdam’s Russian outpost, the Hermitage Museum and we had changed our route somewhat so when we passed this museum by accident we decided it was our duty to squeeze in another museum.IMG_1850

The chic basement entry for the public.

Abraham Willet and Louisa Holthuysen, a married couple with different names, how progressive to retain separate identities, lived in this elegant mansion and together they acquired an art collection. On her Louisa’s death in 1895 all was bequeathed to the City of Amsterdam on the condition it be preserved and shared with the public. I could not find out much about  Abraham except that he was the son of an affluent doctor. I suspect by the number of paintings of dogs in the house and that she left the estate to the government that they did not have children.

I like the rough edge tiles here, they are reminiscent of the hand-made tiles we have seen in Morocco. As I write this I am surrounded by the very same tiles in the kitchen of the house we have moved onto in Belgium.IMG_1815

These tiles are well-worn older versions of the new tiles in the public entry vestibule. Can anyone tell me what this oil filled bottle is hanging in the kitchen.


The back door of the kitchen has a second sink area. The tiled walls have hand-painted tiles added, like this birdcage, owners thoughtful to create a pleasant environment for their cook.IMG_1820

A kitchen cabinet displays its pretty plates.


I want, I want, no you don’t says the travelling Purser beside me.


The hearth is well scrubbed up for todays ‘just looking, not using’ function.IMG_1823

The dining room was quite intimate. In addition to seeing a wonderful house decorated and furnished in the period there was also an exhibition here that was part of the programme  Art Fashion and Design in various museums.  See the plastic-metallic fabric bag draped on the chair. IMG_1849A pair of black lace eyelashes in the photo on the table below.


Another art work below.IMG_1830


This was a secret doorway.IMG_1834

A section of the wall covering is tied back to show the original wall treatments.

IMG_1838The walls were originally lined with wood, the Willet-Holthuysen had them replaced with marble.IMG_1847

Grand staircase. The servants had to carry up buckets of hot water for the bath without spilling on the precious rugs.IMG_1846

The bedroom, the fur on the bed – well it was part of the exhibition, a lacy fur bikini.IMG_1845

The photos on the floor are of models wearing the fur bikini.IMG_1839

And well there was more. Abraham’s collection mania – he was very proud of his acquisitions. Louisa would pass her time at the house receiving visitors between 3.30 and 5pm for visits not exceeding 20 minutes each. IMG_1719

The day before this visit we had peeped between iron fence posts into a pretty French style garden and took a couple of photos. At the time we did not know that the garden was at the rear of the Willet-Holthuysen House.IMG_1809

This is the view from inside the house gates. The garden is not the original but a reconstruction of the French symmetrical style in the 18th century. Fortunately we were able to see the garden too as it is only open a few days in the year so the day we found the museum was perfect timing. I hope you enjoyed the visit with me as much as I did.


  1. #1 by Shannon on June 17, 2013 - 3:18 pm

    Very interesting thanks Roz – it is different to see your posts versus what Liz and I are seeing in Rome!

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