50 windows in the museum park

50 windows in the museum park

The Canon of Dutch History provides an overview of 50 significant events, people, texts, works of art and objects from the history of the Netherlands. At the Holland Open Air Museum every aspect of Dutch history is brought to life. Young and old alike can enjoy an unforgettable day in the extensive museum park. Experience how the story of our daily lives is linked to key events from the past.

Impression of the Canon of Dutch History exhibition

Canon windows in the museum park

In some of our existing historic buildings we are throwing the spotlight on history in a new way. For example, a presentation about Charlemagne has been incorporated into the monastery garden, based around his decree known as the Capitulare de Villis, and in the village school from Lhee the link between education and child labour is made clear. In the Green Cross health centre we meet Willem Drees, the founder of our welfare state, while the Rietveld holiday chalet sheds light on the art movement De Stijl.

From the end of April, in the herb garden exhibition area you will find a presentation about Charlemagne, the most important ruler during the early Middle Ages. In 800 he was crowned Emperor of the West by the Pope and a well-ordered society was established across much of Europe under his rule. The presentation illustrates the visits that were undertaken to supervise the administration of his empire and the facilities that were available on these visits. Charlemagne, the queen and his envoys could stay anywhere throughout the empire. On Charlemagne’s instructions they were given food and lodgings, and if they were sick they could rely on medicines being made available for them. The monastery garden at the museum is a reconstruction of an early 9th-century garden based on a poem by the abbot Walafried from Reichenau monastery in Germany. Most of the (medicinal) plants in this garden are mentioned in the Capitulare de Villis, one of Charlemagne’s decrees, which included a list of plants that should be cultivated in the gardens of the imperial estates. We reveal that it was not only the Emperor’s retinue, but also local people who benefited from these facilities.


Willem Drees
In the Green Cross health centre from Wessem in the province of Limburg you can get to know Willem Drees, the founder of our welfare state. Following the example of the British welfare state (1942), the Dutch government took responsibility not only for employment and social security, but also for medical care, housing and education. Drop in on a Green Cross propaganda evening and step back in time to the 1950s.


De Stijl
In the holiday chalet from Markelo – designed by Gerrit Rietveld – a family is enjoying a week’s holiday. You can look on and see what they are up to. Transforming the living room into a bedroom is no easy task. The surroundings are austere and not particularly cosy, but then you realise how ingeniously the chalet and its interior have been designed.


Opposition to child labour
Samuel van Houten’s Child Labour Act (1874) made it illegal for children up to the age of twelve to work in workshops and factories. In rural areas, however, children continued to work, especially in the summer. In the village school from Lhee you can see how poor children spent the summer weeding, sowing and harvesting. If your parents could manage without the help of their offspring, you could get ahead with your reading, writing, arithmetic and Bible studies over the summer months. That meant you had a better chance of escaping this life working the poor soils of Drenthe. The situation only changed when the Compulsory Education Act was introduced in 1901.


The crisis years
The autumn of 1929 marked the start of a global economic crash. Share prices tumbled, companies went bankrupt and closed their doors, leaving their staff unemployed, while the Dutch government failed to stimulate the economy. The number of Dutch people out of work rose from 125,000 in 1928 to 160,000 in 1929, 282,000 in 1931 and 594,000 in 1935. This global economic crisis of the 1930s had already hit the farming industry in 1925, however. Due to falling consumption and overproduction, prices on the global markets started to fall from 1925 onwards. As a result, from 1926 to 1937 the average Dutch farm was running at a loss. Farm labourers in permanent jobs were earning more than their employers. Farmers in the Oldambt area also struggled to cope with the crisis, as the prices they received for their products declined. At the same time farm labourers were demanding higher wages and better pay for women and young people. On 1 May 1929 they went on strike. This lasted for five months. Some farmers fell into financial difficulty and had to sell their assets. In many cases these were sold at a public auction. The play ‘Boeldag in Beerta’ (‘Auction in Beerta’) reveals what it must have been like for a loyal farm hand to have to sell his employer’s assets.

Ontdek de Canon van Nederland in 2017