Climb up the stairs to the attic and you are in the open depot. There is plenty to see: objects that hint at a fascinating history. In the corner you will find, under the title ‘My collection in the museum’, a small exhibition of just a collector. ‘We’ve had everything,’ says Cees Hazenberg. He is chairman of the museum board. This month there is a collection of hummel figurines. It is nice to discover in this way, as it were, what another museum visitor likes to do.
Every year, around fifty volunteers of the museum receive more than two thousand visitors. Among whom many students. The museum board focuses on this group in particular for the coming years. Contacts with schools in the neighborhood are strenghtened. Employees of the museum come to class and of course the students are also welcome to visit the museum.
Cees Hazenberg is unfolding an ambitious plan to make the museum more widely known. ‘We want to double the number of visitors.’ The museum works closely together with the Historical Society of Central Kennemerland. The websites of the museum and the Society show how extensive the collections of the library and the Image Bank are. The House of History, linked to the museum, is the place where all available information about the history of Kennemerland can be consulted.
What is also in the pipeline, says museum president Hazenberg, is a plan to develop a quest for children. Such a quest for (grand) parents who enter the museum with their (grand) children is still missing. It is being worked on. Given the enthusiasm of the volunteers in Beverwijk, there is still a lot to be explored in the former town hall of Wijk aan Zee and Duin.
The locations where the objects in the showcases were found are indicated on a wall map. A large map shows the Kennemerland from a long time ago. You discover where traces have appeared from the first inhabitants, about three thousand years before our era. Each location is linked to an object that is placed there. For example, an old jug comes from the fortress of the Romans, where the southern entrance of the Wijker Tunnel is now located. A scale model shows what the gate of such a fortress looked like, with a tent of skins, a well and a wine bar next to it.
The big IJ used to flow from Amsterdam to nearly the foot of the dunes in Kennemerland. How much water there was in this area at the time is clearly visible on the map.
It is a big step in time, but in a museum that is possible. Suddenly you are in the luxurious outdoor life of the wealthy in the seventeenth century. Whoever could afford it fled the city in the spring. Away from the smelly canals in the summer months. With all their possessions they sailed to their country estate on the Amstel, the Vecht or in Kennemerland. To Beeckesteijn for example. The poet Joost v.d. Vondel was a regular guest at one of the stately homes in Kennemerland.
Speaking of beautiful buildings, the Kennemerland Museum is housed in a historic building: the former town hall of the municipality of Wijk aan Zee and Duin. A stately building from 1908 on the Westerhoutplein in Beverwijk. The village of Wijk aan Zee still exists, but the municipality of Wijk aan Zee and Duin is now part of Beverwijk. In the former mayoral room hang the colorful carpets of Kinheim.
In the first half of the last century Beverwijk was renowned for its carpet knitting. Kinheim was known for the quality of the carpets and the originality of the designs. Eight to ten ‘girls’ (ladies aged 15 to 60) used to work on large carpets at the same time. Carpets from Beverwijk went to the Peace Palace in The Hague, were used on luxury cruise ships, or in palace Soestdijk and in some town halls. The tapestry received royal approval in 1926, but in 1973 it was over. Manual labour had become too expensive.
Around the same time when the carpet knitting shop was founded, two men (21 and 31 years old) decided to start their pottery Kennemerland. They brought decorative and kitchen pottery on the market, made in the traditional way and affordable to many people. One could tell their pottery by the decoration: a row of colorful blocks on a cream-colored background. That was entirely in the art deco style of those years. The decorations were applied to dried and unbaked clay. Then the decorated clay went into the oven at a low temperature.
In peak periods, the pottery employed 25 people. The decorations got a more graceful character over the years. During the war, in 1942, the pottery disappeared from Kennemerland. In the museum, the characteristic decoration with colorful blocks can be found in numerous places.