on September 27, 2003
Talk about places not to go. A museum with four themes as follows sounds high on the list: the cycle of life; free time and leisure; crafts and trade; religion and popular beliefs at the start of the twentieth century. It was only the fact that it is set in lovely old buildings (which were erected as eighteen almshouses in the fourteenth century and at least part was later used as a children's hospital) that got me in. The thing is that once in the place is a delight.
I was pleased to accept the offer of one of the curators to 'explain a bit' as most notices were only in Dutch. The route itself is a tad confusing as the barriers between the houses have been removed so that you go right along the top of one building, back along the bottom, across the very attractive courtyard into the chapel, out of the other chapel entrance, and then a repeat performance of the first two activities in another building.
It would be possible to stay a very long time as the whole place is simply packed with interest. The craft rooms showing different aspects of daily working life as it was are fascinating but perhaps predictable. Less so sre the children's games and, in particular, the section on beliefs. I was horrified and fascinated at the same time by an article I have not seen elsewhere, a tool for baptising a foetus in utero if there is a significant doubt about its survival.
Also fascinating were the old bridal articles. There was an easy way for a woman to turn down a man's proposal without the need for words. He would present her with a mould for making biscuits or cake with a man's shape. If she did not want him, she had merely to break off the legs of the confectionary. Women who did get to the church for marriage wore black (no comment) but it was made beautiful and interesting by the hand insertion of hundreds of beads.
Enough, I am rambling, but don't let the title put you off!
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