Teylers Museum in Haarlem
Teyler's Museum (Teylers Museum in Dutch), located in Haarlem, is the oldest museum in the Netherlands. The museum is in the former home of Pieter Teyler van der Hulst (1702–1778). He was a wealthy cloth merchant and Amsterdam banker of Scottish descent, who bequeathed his fortune for the advancement of religion, art and science. He was a Mennonite and follower of the Scottish Enlightenment. Nearby the museum is the Teylers Hofje, a hofje which was also founded in Teyler's name.
The Teyler legacy to the city of Haarlem was split into three societies, one for religion, one for science, and one for the arts, known as the first, second, and third societies. The caretakers had to meet in Teyler's home weekly, and each society had five caretakers, so all of the gentlemen involved lived in Haarlem. Until his death, Teyler held weekly meetings in his home for the Mennonite community and the men's drawing school Haarlemse Teekenacademie. The drawing school moved after his death to a new location, to make room for the second society, called Teylers Physische en Naturalien Kabinetten en Bibliotheek (Natural Sciences Library), under the direction of Martin van Marum.
Teyler's Museum displays an eclectic collection of fossils (among which the first ever discovered, if not recognised, of Archaeopteryx), minerals, scientific instruments, medals, coins, and paintings. It is most famous for its extensive collection of old master's prints and drawings, including several works by Michelangelo and Rembrandt. The various objects reflect the interests of 18th century wealthy men like Pieter Teyler who kept 'rariteiten kabinetten' or curiosity cabinets. The main building is built partially in and behind Teyler's former home, on his garden or 'hortus'. Behind the house, the Oval Room was built in 1784 by the architect Leendert Viervant (1752–1801). The same architect drew the plans for the hofje. The current main entrance on the Spaarne was not added until 1878 and was designed by the Viennese architect Christian Ulrich who won the design contest for a new annex, including the entrance hall and auditorium.
The Oval Room (1784) was designed specifically as an art gallery for public access and is a fine example of Neo-classical architecture in the Netherlands. The portrait of Teyler himself still hangs in this room. A showcase in the centre displays a mineralogical collection from the 18th century and the showcases around hold 18th-century scientific instruments. The upper gallery which was designed to let in the maximum amount of light for viewing purposes, has twelve built-in bookcases, largely containing period encyclopaedias. It is now closed to the public. Various parts of the library and print collection are now shown in rotation in a specially prepared room for prints built behind the Oval Room. The history of the Teyler's collection is almost as interesting as the collection itself. As curiosity cabinets fell out of fashion, the museum was granted objects from former summer estates in the Haarlem area. For example, many of the fossils come from a collection of one of the former owners of Groenendaal. Many of the medals and coins come from the former Joh. Enschedé mint, which was originally situated next to the museum.
In the 19th century, the museum was expanded with two painting galleries. The Painting Galleries show a collection of works from the Dutch Romantic School and the later Hague and Amsterdam Schools, including major works by Barend Cornelis Koekkoek, Andreas Schelfhout, Cornelis Springer, Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Jan Willem Pieneman, Anton Mauve, Jacob Maris, Johan Hendrik Weissenbruch, George Hendrik Breitner, Jozef Israels, and Isaac Israëls. A large-scale extension, designed by Hubert Jan Henket and opened in 1996, accommodates temporary exhibitions. Teyler's Museum holds a collection of more than 10,000 master drawings and some 25,000 prints.
The original mission of the second society included research as well as education. After the death of van Marum, Teyler's continued to attract scientists of high standing as caretakers. The theoretical physicist Hendrik Lorentz was appointed director of research at Teyler's in 1910, a position he held until his death in 1928. At the time of his appointment Lorentz was at the height of his scientific career and was a central figure in the international community of physicists. Under his leadership, the Teyler's Museum conducted scientific research in such diverse fields as optics, electromagnetism, radio waves and atom physics. Lorentz was succeeded by the physicist and musician Adriaan Fokker.
The museum created a new wing in 1996 to house a café and a rotational display of van Marum's library collection, such as in 2007, when the works of John James Audubon in combination with contemporary stuffed birds of Naturalis were on show there. The combination of stuffed birds with bird watercolor paintings, was historically a recreation of a much older presentation to Haarlem's public of Audubon's work. During the years 1827-1838, when Teyler's Museum (through van Marum) subscribed to the Audubon Birds of America, many of the corresponding stuffed birds in similar poses had also been on permanent display for the public in Haarlem, at the forerunner of Naturalis, the defunct "Haarlem Museum of Science", a curiosity cabinet that was owned by the Dutch Society of Science, of which van Marum had also been curator and which had been situated in his own home on the Grote Houtstraat.
In 2007 the book was the subject of an exhibition by the Museum, which owns a copy it ordered from the original subscription, along with the table sold to house and display it. The book's subsections fit into special drawers around a fly-leaf table; the table formed the centerpiece for gatherings of the Teyler's gentlemen's society of science. To commemorate the book's record-breaking sale, the museum has decided to display its copy (for which the museum eventually paid 2200 guilders—a fortune at the time—during the years 1827-1838) from now until January 2011.
The museum is open six days a week; Tuesdays-Saturday 10:00-17:00, and Sundays 12:00-17:00.
- Tiberius Cornelis Winkler