the hindelooper room
the mother of all hindelooper rooms
In 1880, the carpenter Oege van Dijk wrote his name and the year, 1880, on the back of one of the wooden walls that make up the Frisian Society for History and Culture’s Hindelooper Room. His name reappeared, completely legible, in 2012, when the Hindelooper Room was dismantled and moved from the Eysingahuis, an 18th-century city palace in Leeuwarden, to the new Fries Museum.
Oege was one of many carpenters who worked on the Hindelooper Room over the years, helping to erect, dismantle, move, and reassemble it. This room has done a lot of travelling and in fact was specially made so that it could. But why? In 1877, the Frisian Society for History and Culture organised the Historische Tentoonstelling van Friesland (Historical Exhibition of Friesland) in the Stadhouderlijk Hof in Leeuwarden. This room was especially put together for this exhibition. Because rooms like these had long since disappeared from Hindeloopen, this one was based on memories and whatever relics could be found. Painted tables and chairs, bedsteads, and other materials such as chintzes from India and Kraak porcelain from China, were found in Hindeloopen and other places.
The reconstructed Hindelooper interior in Leeuwarden was a huge success. Thanks to high ticket sales, the Eysingahuis could be purchased and the Fries Museum was established there. There the room was reassembled again in 1880 by our carpenter Oege; it opened to the public in 1881. Two years earlier, this room – almost identical in every way – had been exhibited in Paris, where it was so well received that other cities and even collectors too wanted a similar room: Hindeloopen (1881), Amsterdam (1883), Dusseldorf (1885), Dordrecht (1896), Berlin (1898), Nuremberg (1902) and Arnhem (1919).
The Hindelooper Room in the Fries Museum is, in effect, the mother of all Hindelooper rooms, even those that can be seen in Hindeloopen! The room that was installed temporarily in Hindeloopen in 1881 is the same as the one in Berlin in 1898. The room that has been installed in Museum Hindeloopen since 1964 is the same room that was made for Dusseldorf in 1885. Hindelooper rooms are therefore a type of travelling promotional material that share the uniqueness of Hindelooper culture with the rest of the world.
The Hindelooper Room in the new Fries Museum lives up to all our expectations – and more. This is the first time the scruffy backs of the panels making up this room have been shown to the public, revealing that the room was designed as a construction kit.
And what about the carpenter, Oege van Dijk? Records state that he was born in Leeuwarden in 1859, and married the seamstress Jeltje Bruis in 1884. Perhaps we’ll hear from their descendants if they read this.