Monday, February 4, 2013

My Artist Date at the Museum of Bags And Purses

We have this amazing museum in town called Tassenmuseum Hendrikje or in plain English: The Museum of Bags and Purses. It gives you the history of the bag and purse throughout centuries and shows you hundreds of beauties. How it started, why it started and who would wear them. So pour yourself a cup of tea and browse through the many many photo's I took. WARNING: Long post!!
And before hand I would like to apologize for some of the photo's because they are not the sharpest. Still have to work on my steady hand while taking non flash photo's.

The museum itself is in a beautiful canal house that belonged to the mayor of Amsterdam of that period.
The house was built in 1664 and has a long and wonderful history.

I was really excited walking in and the entrance is also where the giftshop was. Drool! I showed my annual museum pass which allows me free entrance (!) and was given a little explanation about the museum by a very kind lady. I was to start at the top floor where the oldest bags were and then walk my way down to the lower floors where the more modern bags were she said.

Standing at the foot of the stairs and looking up I saw this beautiful ceiling painting. But then I saw an elevator and took it to the topfloor (yes, total wuz, that's me!)

There I got to see a closer look of the ceiling painting and a look down the stairs.

Can you imagine what effort they must have taken over 300 years ago to do that ceiling painting? Incredible. Further down the post I show you some more beauties.
And then finally.... the exhibit.

My compliments if you read it all. If you have not, it basically says that bags and purses were invented by lack of pockets in clothes where valuables or personal items could be kept. Items such as keys, combs, mirrors, coins, documents, bank notes, bibles, holy relics etc. Also that men would wear them too and not just the dull ones. The richer you were the more elaborate the bag was, to show off your wealth. Nowadays in the 21st century if you would see a man wearing a "man's purse" he is not being progressive but actually he is old fashioned (wink wink). Below is a purse that would have been worn by a man.

Below a couple of gaming purses, or purses where coins and gambling games such as cards were held.

A closeup of one of the bags. Red velvet with gold thread embroidery and gold thread tassels from the 16th century.

Medieval times:

Below a selection of 16th and 17th purses for valuable documents, bank notes etc. All richly decorated.

Then, I was so impressed by the workmanship of the following bags. Beaded bags. Not only beaded but knitted as well. And if you just look at the process of stringing the beads first before the knitting could start, and bare in mind the minuscule size of the bead, the candlelight they had to work with I am just wondering how many of those poor workers would have gone blind in their lifespan.

Just look of the size of those knitting needles. 5 of them!!! Good grieve, I am in awe.

Needless to say that such bags were so labor intensive they were ridiculously expensive and therefor could only be bought and worn by the very wealthy. In the 19th century a new technique was invented to make beaded bags. The weaved beaded bag. Less labor intensive and also quicker to be made and less expensive. Lesser wealthy ladies could now afford such a purse.
Below some samples of the weaved beaded bag.

With exception of the Olympic bag which is from Germany 1928 all the other bags are 19th century.

2 Beautiful embroidered bags with beads. Above is late 19th century, below is early 20th century.

Having finished this floor, I walked to a lower floor where I entered the bags from the 20th and 21st century. Here is where the fun really starts.

Art Deco bags:

Marcasite bags:

Ivory covered:

Travel section below was probably my favorite of everything I saw. I always travel light because I have to carry it all myself. I cannot imagine going somewhere with all of this but doesn't it look fabulous? I was drooling. Loved it all. Oh be still my heart...

A selection of 1950's bags:

So very Doris Day:

Fashion bags:

Contemporary bags:

I thought this one was a hoot. Yes, I would walk with this bag:

This actually is a real can of diet Coke, cut in two, hinges and a lock was added and lots and lots of bling.

By this time I was so tired and seeing this can of coke made me realize I was thirsty.
As luck would have it there was a tearoom. YES, my prayer was answered. I still had one more floor to see, the ground floor with a collection of bags that you could also purchase. And then of course there was the giftshop to visit but first I wanted tea.

The tearoom with the sunroom in the back.

A selection of goodies. And do you see those bags on the counter?

You could buy 3 bottles of wine and you would receive it in this wonderful gift bag. Shame I don't drink wine. I sure wanted one of those bags.

That front cupcake looked so nice I just had to have it.

The sunroom and my table in the corner where I overlooked the snowfilled garden.

My goodies. I choose the lemon and ginger tea. yummmmm.

And also here I was surrounded by art. I love the second one with the green gloves:

Spend a nice quiet time drinking my tea and talking with the lady who served me my tea. She is a wealth of information. She ensured me to walk through the morning room and reception hall. (HA, like I would skip that part).

The entrance to the two rooms of the canal house that can be hired for receptions or small wedding venues.


With amazing ceilings.

After this I was ready for my last floor. At the top of the stairs before walking down there was a special case:

Walking down the the ground floor there were the bags that were both on display for the exhibit but if you wanted to you could purchase them. Well, even if I wanted to I would never. It is simply the choice between my rent or a bag. They are nice though.

And this beauty would be 3 months of rent.

And then I entered the gift shop. Oh my. Bag galore.

Fun children's books:

Oh and I really really wanted to buy this one. But the price tag stopped me. This bag has my name on it.

And all this time while walking through this wonderful museum I was so self conscious about my own shoulderbag. It is not that bad but is is so plain after what I saw. I made a promise to myself that come summer I will buy myself a fancy bright colored bag.

And this concludes my Artist Date. Did you have fun looking at the photo's? I had a blast taking them. See a bag you liked? Gosh, I saw a few I would proudly wear. What a wonderful museum. I will visit this one again for sure!!


  1. I drooled all over my screen with this post Renné so absolutely fabulous. Now that is where I want to go for an Artist Date. You have inspired me to go and take on of these trips like this one. You have done a superb job in this visit. What a treat thank you so much. :-)

  2. I love going on artist dates with you! My favorite is the white tiger...I would so use that one. Fabulous venture. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I'm so loving your artist dates! Especially that you are taking us all along with you! What a treat! And I'm with you, that turquoise bag.....YUM! ♥ (((hugs)))

  4. Hey Renne...Yes, I am still alive. I just want to tell you that I loved this! Great interesting makes me wish I could take that tour! Nice work, I really enjoyed this post.
    How are You? June

  5. Such a FANTASTIC Post!!! What a wonderful fun place to visit! I love it. You are an amazing photographer! Thank you for sharing your artist dates!