The Louwman Museum in The Hague, Netherlands

The Louwman Museum in The Hague is by far one of the best museums I’ve visited in the city since my arrival in 2013. This is a car museum that documents the history of the automobile in a very unique manner. In fact, the museum possesses many prized motorcars and over two hundred vehicles are on display here. The oldest car showcased dates from 1886 and the newest is from the 2000s.

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From the onset I was pleasantly surprised as a racing driver sculpture (with Christmas cap) stands at the entrance to what is a very impressive and modern facade.

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Inside the museum, the journey begins with the evolution of the horse and cart to the first steam-powered motors.

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This steam engine below (Bikkers Steam Car) from 1907 looks very much like a fire engine but it is actually a sanitation vehicle and is currently the oldest surviving municipal vehicle in the Netherlands. Since it was used to clean the facades of buildings, little thought was given to comfort and the driver was perched on top of a single hard seat at the very front.

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All vehicles at the museum are placed in a chronological manner, whereby you’ll notice the dramatic design changes and improved functionality of cars throughout the decades.

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Yes, this is indeed a Harley Davidson motorbike below…notice the brown padded leather seat (a focus on luxury is always evident with this brand).

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You’ll also discover some oddly shaped bubble/bean-like vehicles such as these brightly coloured ones:

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And there are even more amazing vehicles to be found at The Louwman Museum. Take this boat-shaped car for instance. This is the Fiat 1100 Boat-Car Carrozzeria Coriasco and is in fact not seaworthy at all! It was used as a publicity stunt for a sailing school in Bologna, Italy. It even has all the nautical niceties of a boat i.e. portholes and a varnished wooden deck as part of the design.

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A favourite of mine is this funny little orange car with a canopy top designed by Jozef Ganz. Ganz was a German car designer who escaped to Switzerland during the Nazi regime since he was Jewish. Many of Ganz’s design ideas led to the formation of the Volkswagen Beetle. Sadly, corrupt officials stole one of his projects and he was involved in various court cases to fight for his prototypes. He died in Australia in 1967, practically forgotten.

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Other noteworthy mentions at The Louwman Museum include Sir Winston Churchill’s Humber (1954), Elvis Presley’s cadillac (1976) and two cars used in ‘The Godfather’ films.

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There are also various racing cars and even a magnificent Rolls-Royce from 1954 (see below) which has a toilet on board! And not just any toilet…this WC has a gold-painted toilet seat, air-conditioning, a bar, a telephone and television set (one of the first mobile sets in the world…). According to sources, the toilet was never used as such and was instead utilised as a very fancy champagne cooler.

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And one of my absolute favourites – this striking and very beautiful yellow and black carriage which once carried workers up top.

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See the black ladder to ascend to the seats above…

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Other beauties include these incredibly ornate fire trucks.

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And the world’s first six-cylinder, 4-wheel drive, 4-wheel brake motorcar is also on display.

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But by far the oddest vehicle at The Louwman Museum in The Hague is the Brooke Swan Car.

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This vehicle was the creation of a wealthy Scotsman, Robert Nicholl ‘Scotty’ Matthewson who lived in India in the early 20th century. Matthewson’s intention was to shock the local elite who resided in Calcutta. And the car managed to do just that! It in fact caused widespread panic in the streets when it was first driven and the police were even forced to intervene.

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Lastly, the car I wish I could have (just for a day, I pray) is this purple number…it’s called the Lincoln Sedan Delivery Deco Liner and Harley Davidson Sportster Deco Scoot (what a name I tell you!).

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The car is from 2008 and in addition to it’s striking purple metallic appearance, it has a special inlet for the Harley Davidson motorbike at the back (a two-in-one so to speak!). Pretty neat indeed.

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The Louwman Museum in The Hague is full of surprises such as these. And even if you’re not such a car fanatic, there is something enjoyable and special about the experience. This is a museum with a definite ‘wow’ factor.

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Elizabeth Joss

Elizabeth Joss is the founder and main writer at The Museum Times. She works as a university lecturer by day and is an avid travel blogger and arts and culture enthusiast by night. Elizabeth started The Museum Times out of the need to give smaller, lesser-known museums more exposure.

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