Teylers Museum – Haarlem, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura
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Haarlem, Netherlands

Teylers Museum

Oldest Museum of the Netherlands is a true cabinet of curiosities. 

UpdateFounded with an endowment from a wealthy 18th century cloth and fabric merchant, the Teylers Museum is the oldest museum in the Netherlands, and walking into it feels like stepping back in time by 226 years.

The museum began as the “Cabinet of Curiosities” of Pieter Teyler van der Hulst, and remains housed in his former home. Opened to the public in 1784, it is still lit only by daylight. Items are displayed in beautiful glass cases and bell jars.

Teyler was an influential merchant and academic in Haarlem, Netherlands. His society had separate groups for the study of religion, science and art, each of which had five “caretakers” in charge of that department. The museum continued to attract influential caretakers through the early 1900s and Hendrik Lorenz, a famous theoretical physicist, was the director of research from 1910 til 1928.

From fossils to coins, the museum boasts a broad collection of “naturalia and artificialia, fossils and telescopes, optical toys and comparative telegraph cables, automata and minerals, models and bird eggs, paintings and scientific glassware-all housed beneath lofty sculpted and glass-vaulted ceilings.” Started as a Cabinet of Curiosities, the museum today continues to delight and bring out the curiosity in its modern day visitors.

The Teylers Museum also collaborates with the Guislain Museum in Gent, Belgium, on rotating exhibitions. Currently, the Teylers Museum hosts a exhibit exploring the tension between faith and science, and the influence of Darwin.

Don’t miss the The Kaiser Panorama, “an enormous, automated stereoscopic viewer with multiple viewers and rotating slides.”

Update 2018: The Kaiser Panorama is no longer on display at the Teylers Museum.