On a recent trip to Dordrecht, I visited three different museums as part of the Glassfever Exhibition (currently on until the 25th September 2016) – an event taking the city by storm. What I loved about my visit to these various museums is that each offers a different experience of glass; a new way of combining old and new. In fact, during my visit I found myself to be on a treasure hunt for the next striking and interesting glass artwork to be discovered (even sometimes in every room of a museum, accompanied by signboards).
My recent blog post documents this Glassfever Exhibition at one of the venues – the Dordrechts Museums. However, Huis van Gijn was the second location I visited and one that equally deserves as much attention. It’s museum which was previously owned by Simon van Gijn, a businessman, lawyer and collector. In 1925 his house was turned into a museum and has been utilized as this ever since. Various rooms in the house date from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and each offers something entirely different and interesting.
What struck me as novel was the new glass sculpture of a soldier (part of this temporary Glassfever Exhibition). The sculpture is on the second floor of the museum with a backdrop of other army-related objects like spears and metal suits. Mr Gijn was fond of patriotism and these objects demonstrate his keen interest in history and the House of Orange.
The interior at Huis van Gijn certainly has a ‘wow’ factor. Take this red room or ‘Chic Drawing Room’ for example. This room was used mostly by Mrs Van Gijn-Vriesendorp and it was a place where she received her guests (in style no doubt).
Furthermore, during those times cooking played a large role in every day life. The furnace burned the whole day and was used for warm water and cooking. Huis van Gijn even contains the original kitchen from 1729 but with some updated objects like the stone stove from the 19th century.
Lastly, in the attic there is a most bizarre display of dolls and toys in general. This is set in a rather peculiar dark place, with purposely dimmed lights and strange-looking, creepy toys from hundreds of years ago. What a mergence of colours, objects and centuries all in a single house!
Huis van Gijn is an important depiction of bygone times and of the wealthy upper class who resided in the city. Today it is a fascinating juxtaposition of rooms and objects spanning three centuries, some providing us with a sense of nostalgia, others appealing to our sense of mystery and intrigue.
“The past is a reflection of the present, and he who wants to thoroughly understand his own era, the present, must not be a complete stranger to the past, the source of the present” – Simon van Gijn