Dutch Wonderland

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Forget Paris, you can keep your Louvre. NYC? Forget the Met...well, maybe not the Costume Institute (The Nan Kemper exhibit is closing this weekend...if you are in the area, it's pretty amazing, especially considering that unlike today's clotheshorses, she bought and never borrowed, her clothes, but I digress).

There is another museum on my radar, Museum of Handbags and Purses, The Tassenmuseum Hendrikje, and I just moved Amsterdam to the top of my vacation list.

This isn't just someones closeted collection of designer bags, not at all. It's the culmination of a lifetime of collecting antique and meaningful purses begun by Sigrid Ivo, the curator/director's mother Hendrikje. There are bags dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries...little ornate pouches in beautiful textiles, adorned with embroidery and porcelain. Truly amazing, even in tiny web photos they are exquisite, and remarkably well preserved.

There are also bags dating through modern times, several of which have a very current vibe to them such as this snake and ivory handbag dated circa 1925.

The shape is exactly what's being shown on the runways and the cameo of Eve and the apple is the sort of deluxe detail which makes a bag stand out. Of course I can't even imagine how much it would cost today, even made with faux ivory.

Another stand out, also in a material no longer permitted for use unless fake is this tortoise and pearl box from Germany circa 1820.

The workmanship on the inlay is amazingly intricate and delicate. The clasp is a bit unrefined compared to the bag, but it is still a beautiful bag, and a style not terribly uncommon to people who frequent antique markets and vintage shops...though far older than many of those which are often Lucite or other plastics in vogue at that time. And again, you're not likely to see real tortoise shell that often.

The site is divided by era, and only has 6 or so photos representing each, but it's still worth a look. I do wish that the photos had more detail (to tide me over until I make it to Holland) and that the brief descriptions weren't actually in Dutch (though an online translator helped some, it's not good for colloquialisms...like "scholar bag" which I assume to mean briefcase or attache) though that's very "ugly American" and presumptuous of me but I would really like to be able to read more about the museum itself. Perhaps that is coming, since the museum is undergoing a move to make it more of a prominent cultural venue by moving to Amsterdam proper (and for budding bagistas, they'll have children's activities).