Zuiderzee Museum

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Entrance to the "indoor" museum on the Wierdijk. The right corner building is the front of the 'Peperhuis' (Pepper house).

The Zuiderzee Museum, located on the Wierdijk 18-22 in the historic center of Enkhuizen, is a Dutch museum devoted to preserving cultural heritage from the Zuiderzee region as well as the maritime history of it. Since the closing of the Afsluitdijk (barrier dam) on the 6th of may 1932, it is named the IJsselmeer and the part north of the barrier dam is called Waddenzee.


In the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica Enkhuizen was announced:

Three crowned herrings in the shield of Enkhuizen carried by the city virgin

That was how it was in Enkhuizen for example. Enkhuizen is called 'Haringstad' (Herring town) and was an important fishing port for centuries until the Zuiderzee was closed by the barrier dam in 1932. The water became fresh and the fish changed from fish like Herring and Anchovy in to Eel, Smelt and red perch. Nowadays Eel are rare in the IJsselmeer and only a small amount is caught and sold very expensive at the auction. Eel stays away from the lake IJsselmeer. The cause is probably the pollution of the ocean and also: the baby glass eel is is fished out of the ocean and is grown in containers on land. Eel breeds for offspring near South America in the Sargasso Sea. The other problem is the many Cormorants on the lake. They also fish on eel.

History of the Zuiderzeemuseum[edit]

The impetus for the founding of the Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen was an exhibition that was held around 1930 in the park along the seawall. In this Zuiderzee Visscherij Tentoonstelling (exhibition) (ZVT) were houses made of cardboard and there were people in costumes from around the Zuiderzee. Because of the threat of the war and the war itself they halted with developing plans for a Zuiderzee Museum. After the Second World War in the summer of 1949 the first exhibition was shown in the Drommedaris, the tower on the harbour. This was the birth of the indoor museum. After the succes of this exhibition the society of friends of the Zuiderzeemuseum obtained the warehouses on the Wierdijk (including the Peperhuis) for a symbolic amount (1 guilder) from seed company Sluis and Groot. The dutch government took over these buildings, restored them and maintains them until today.

The indoor museum[edit]

Often on show is the 18th century chest (Assendelfter kast) painted with scenes from the life of Elijah the old testament prophet

The indoor museum, which is a string of 17th century buildings (original and replica) that partially once were in use for the VOC, contains temporary exhibition areas, as well as some permanent installations. Most notably is the 'Schepenhal' (ship's hall), which allows visitors a close-up view of some of the more common types of historical boats from the Zuiderzee rich fishing industry but also boats sailing for pleasure in the past are shown. Among these beautiful boats is the Sperwer (Sparowhawk), a 'boeier' once owned by the English adventurer Merlin Minshall, who sailed this boat from England over the Danube to the Black sea in the 1930s for his honeymoon. And later again for the English secret service, where his boss was Ian Fleming. Later Flemming became the James Bond character creator. Possible Merlin Minshall was his example. Also a historic 'Midzwaardjacht' (Centreboard) is on show. The indoor museum also displays artifacts from other aspects of the Zuiderzee cultural past, including paintings, furniture and traditional 'klederdracht'. (costumes)

The outdoor museum[edit]

Queen Beatrix opened the outdoor museum on the 6th of May 1983 as a new part for the Zuiderzeemuseum. The location where it is currently constructed was before 1970 in use as a storage area for the Zuiderzee Works. The dike to Lelystad was build in that time; that is the north dike of Markerwaard polder which still is a lake (Markermeer) so not changed in to land, and probably never will be. The present museum village was built to situations of villages around the former Zuiderzee. Most of the buildings are authentic and sometimes even transported complete in an iron frame. Some buildings like the Wharf and the house 'Siberie' from island Marken are replica's copied from the original buildings. There are buildings from the north of Groningen following the coast till the island of Wieringen. The first building to be built round 1971 was the 'Gasthuiskapel' (hospital chapel) from Den Oever. The first acquisited building for the museum came in 1948. For about 32 years the demolished house was kept in storage. It was a 'dijkhuis' (dike house) from Hindeloopen where in a pub is located now along the dike of the outdoor museum. The interior of this dike house has been exhibited for many years in the indoor museum containing Hindeloopen costumes and furniture which are very special between all the types of costumes in the Netherlands. In the outdoor museum there is also a wind mill, lime kilns, herring smokehouses, a steam laundry, little shops from the past, a pharmacy, a basket maker, a blacksmith, a cheese warehouse, a school, a hairdresser and a harbor that was constructed in the situation on Marken before enlargement there. Also some of the history of the IJsselmeer is shown since some years ago. From April to November there is plenty of activity in the outdoor museum with typical old Dutch activities, like old games and creating a clog boat for children. Also given demonstrations of ancient crafts (rope-making, cooperage, basket making and herring smoking).

Restaurants and pub[edit]

Both "indoor" and 'outdoor' museum have several restaurants which itself are a National Heritage site. like the house from Hindeloopen now a pub, the Amsterdam house and the Pepper house on the Wierdijk.

Opening hours[edit]

Zuiderzeemuseum binnenmuseum (indoor part) is open all year-round, and the 'buitenmuseum' (outdoor part) is open from Easter to late October daily, both from 10 am to 5 pm.


Enkhuizen as seen from the ferry to the open air museum. With the Drommedaris and Zuidertoren in distance

For the outdoor museum in the summer its best parking at the official parking at the entrance of the road to Lelystad (along the dike). A ferry will sail you along Enkhuizen's old scenery to the outdoor museum. If you enter by the railway the ferry stops on side of the Enkhuizen train station. There is a fast speed connection (about 1 hour) with Amsterdam Central Station, departing every half hour. In the old center of Enkhuizen parking is free on Sunday only. On weekdays you can park for free behind the NS railway station (Thats on walking distance from the indoor museum). Ask the locals. Most of them speak English! Plan a whole day for Enkhuizen and the museum. A visit to the museum takes at least 4 hours but also the ancient city of Enkhuizen is worth to be visited.



  • Minshall, Merlin, Guilt Edged, Bachman & Turner, 1975. ISBN 978-0-85974-032-6)
  • Uit het Peperhuis., Annual magazine of the society 'Friends of the Zuiderzeemuseum' (many volumes in Dutch)
  • Guidebooks for both indoor and outdoor museum from different years. (In Dutch or English)

The above books (and many others) can be seen in the library of the indoor museum, open on weekdays.

External links[edit]

Monumentenbordje 2014.svg Dutch Rijksmonument 15235

Coordinates: 52°42′24″N 5°18′01″E / 52.70667°N 5.30028°E / 52.70667; 5.30028