Netherlands // Noord-Holland //

The Zuiderzeemuseum

It’s a short walk from the centre of Enkhuizen to the landbound part of the Zuiderzeemuseum, around a dozen rooms devoted to changing annual exhibitions on different aspects of the Zuider Zee. At its heart is the impressive ship hall, where you can get up close and personal with a number of traditional sailing barges and other craft. There is an ice-cutting boat from Urk, once charged with the responsibility of keeping the shipping lanes open between the island and the mainland; a dinghy for duck-hunting, complete with shotgun; and some wonderful fully rigged and highly varnished sailing vessels.

Museumpark

The main event, however, is the so-called Museumpark, whose main entrance is about 100m to the north along Wierdijk, and which stretches north along the seaward side of the old dyke that once protected Enkhuizen from the Zuider Zee. It’s a fantastically well-put-together collection of over 130 dwellings, stores, workshops and even streets that have been transported here from every part of the region, and which together provide the flavour of life hereabouts from 1880 to around 1932. There are many highlights, and just about everything is worth seeing, but the best include a reconstruction of Marken harbour as of 1900, a red-brick chapel and assorted cottages from Den Oever, old fishermen’s houses from Urk, a post office and a pharmacy, which has a marvellous collection of “gapers” – painted wooden heads with their tongues out, which were the traditional pharmacy’s sign. The museum works very hard to be authentic: sheep and goats roam the surrounding meadows and its smokehouses smoke (and sell) real herring and eels, the sweetshop sells real old-fashioned sweets, the beautifully kept schoolrooms offer geography and handwriting classes, and there’s even a woman in a 1930s furnished house who will make you a traditional Dutch lunch. There’s also a nature reserve, where you can take a picnic and walk through the woods for some great views over the water. All in all not be missed, especially if you have children.