Europe, Wanderlust

Amsterdam museum of bags and purses

I do love a good bag. Not as much as I love shoes, but a close runner-up. But if you’re thinking a bag and purse museum is only for the most fashiony of fashion victims, you’d actually be missing out by not seeing the Tassenmuseum in Amsterdam.

One of the collection of quirky museums that Amsterdam seems to specialise in, I was fascinated. Minnie, I suspected, wouldn’t be. Fortunately, neither was my Dad who was travelling with us, so I left the pair of them doing stickers by a canal, while my Mum and I explored the museum.

The world's largest bag and purse collection at the Tassenmuseum in AmsterdamAnd there’s far more than bag after bag. Looking at the changing fashions and styles gives you an insight into society and culture as well – the enormous chatelaines signifying authority, the saddlebag-style bags which could be worn under full skirts and the reticules which resulted from women’s escape out of those restricting petticoats.

Some were impressively old, amazing that something as fragile as a bag could survive down the centuries.

amsterdam-tassenmuseum-museum-bags-antiqueThere were also gambling purses with stiff round bases so they’d stand up on the card table, often embossed with a coat of arms so there’d be no arguments over who the owner was.

And lovely snippets like the way the silver frames of one particular bag fashion were so valuable that they were passed down from mother to daughter, with a new bag attached. Even wedding fashions.

amsterdam-tassenmuseum-museum-bags-laceNot to mention trends such as the mania for all things Eastern.

Plus some more recent styles, where I spent quite a bit of time choosing my own bag wishlist.

Lastly, a temporary exhibition of ‘ugly’ bags and the thought-provoking debate on what is beauty? How do our perceptions change over the centuries, or even decades – how often have you looked back on something you loved which suddenly seemed ridiculous.

amsterdam-tassenmuseum-museum-bags-uglySome of them really were ugly though.

Unlike the cafe, which is rather fabulously ornate and opulent, and serves afternoon tea in its 17th and 18th century surroundings. Sadly, I could only gaze before heading back to my sticker-addicted daughter. Next time.

Need to know
Entry to the museum costs 12.50 Euros for adults or is included in the I Amsterdam card. It’s open daily from 10am to 5pm.

It’s on the Herengracht behind Rembrandtplein, so served by plenty of trams or an easy walk along the canal. Look out for the big red banners. You’re advised to spend around an hour and a half – I scuttled round in about an hour.


Disclosure: My I Amsterdam card was courtesy of the city’s tourist board. All decisions to visit the museum and to go without a child, despite the name of the blog, are my own, as are my opinions.

Images copyright MummyTravels/Cathy Winston


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