From ancient times to today
Zeeland has a wealth of museums
Culture is important to us in Zeeland, given the special aspects of our days gone by. You’ll see this in all our historical museums, spanning from the National Flood Disaster (Watersnoodmuseum) to the Visserijmuseum about our fishing times and to the Zeeuws museum in Middelburg. But Zeeland provides a stunning stage for contemporary art and science too. Take a peep at the inventions on display at Bizarium in Vlissingen or take in the Vleeshal (meat hall) in Middelburg. Do you have youngsters with you? They’ll find ample choice in our museums. Maybe at the almost unique Sjakie’s ‘chocolade’ museum, apparently inspired in tone and taste by the earlier works of Roald Dahl on a chocolate factory , and dedicating its income to facilities for children with special needs at the WillieWonkaHuis. Or on the stonking steam train which delivers passengers to the railway museum in Borssele. For a very different take on things, visit de Grote Kerk in Veere with its enthralling animations and visuals of centuries-old tales.
All the way across Zeeland, from (southerly) Zeeuws-Vlaanderen to (the more northern) Schouwen-Duiveland, you’ll always be impressed. These wonders will let you discover our cultural sides.
The Gravensteen museum in Zierikzee is a must. Seeing the stone etchings in its walls you’ll discover centuries-old carvings in the thick oaken walls by robbers, swordsmen and smugglers, and see the heavy stones that women accused of being rumour-mongers had to wear around their neck while walking around town.
Grote Kerk Veere Experience
Our legacy is brought magically to life in the Grote Kerk Veere Experience in its magnificent building. History comes from this interactive platform of audio-visuals, 3D-audio segs and a swirl of animations about Grote Kerk’s mysteries and secrets in Veere.
By nature, inventions come in all shapes and sizes. But the absolutely crazy, brilliant and scientific ones are on show in Bizarium, a museum of the Bizarre. A flying bicycle, an umbrella for swimming and a helmet for hair growth. Among them: the designs of Leonardo di Vinci and Nikola Tesla. All in this museum in picturesque Sluis.
Kids can have a lot of adventure in Zeeuwse museums. Like a trip on a trip back in time on a real steam loc. The original museum train from Goes to Borsele runs on its very own line. Starting in Goes, it goes through Kwadendamme to Hoedekenskerke. Sure, a real clippie conductor will check your tickets, while the stoker sweats away performing the long-forgotten fireman tasks of feeding coal to the fire.
The Terra Maris Museum of Nature
Terra Maris in Oostkapelle hosts the nature and landscape museum of the Zeeuwse Landschap foundation. It’s based in the former orangery of Westhove castle and is a real adventure for youngsters – with a wealth of beauty and information for adults. Behind it, you’ll find all the elements of our very varied Zeeuwse landscape.
Sjakie's Chocolate Museum
The largest assortment of the only chocolate museum in the Netherlands. Young visitors are shown around the Willy Wonka Villa and get a real 'golden ticket'. You’ll see how to make chocolate, from A to Z – and be able to taste 30 different varieties. Must be fun!
Another child-friendly museum of ours is the Zeeuws Maritiem muZEEum in Vlissingen. It explains what the sea means to us Zeeuwen.
Unearth Zeeuwse history
Any visit to Zeeland just has to include the National Flood Museum, the Watersnoodmuseum. The 1953 disaster, known as ‘De Ramp’, is an inseparable part of Zeeland. This sinew goes deep, time after time. To this day, many a Zeeuw will not sleep easily if it’s stormy outside – despite the defence of the Delta Works. Listen to the account of the child who floated in a basket of reeds to service. Look in awe at the caissons which were used to close the breached dikes. And wise up on how we Zeeuw people cope with water today.
It’s worth taking the guided tour around the masterpieces in the Zeeuws Museum, anchored in the historical heart of Middelburg. This medieval abbey is home to archaeological finds and world-famous tapestries, costumes, paintings and exotic items brought ‘home’ by Zeeuwen from their distant journeys. The exhibitions rotate and are always linked to the present day. Special activities are held regularly for young and old, such as in the ‘Werkplaats’ workshop zone.
In Zeeland you’ll find a variety of local museums, such as in Goes and Sint-Annaland. The Warenhuis in Axel merits special attention, letting you experience just how people lived in the area of the Land van Axel, in the days from 1850 to 1950. How they looked and lived, and what they liked to do. Take a trip back in time! Go!
The Battle of the Schelde
History truly comes to life in our museums. Take the gripping and barely-known story of the liberation of the southern Netherlands in the battle of the Schelde (estuary). Back in 1944, the advances of the Allied forces were brought to a grinding halt because the troops on the front-line had too few supplies. It was essential to bring them through Antwerp harbour. This in turn required ensuring access to Antwerp, hence the battle (‘Slag’) of the Schelde. It was a very bitter battle, involving numerous victims and much destruction – important to the further liberation of the Netherlands. So little is known about this event.
In order to submerge the island of Walcheren during the war, the sea dike (Zeedijk) was breached by bombs in Westkapelle. Listen to local people’s recollections in the Polderhuis in Westkapelle. And feel their force when out on a beach walk, immediately behind the museum.
The battle of the Schelde included a fierce fight for the eastern part of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen – explained in the Gdynia museum. Good to visit the Bevrijdingsmuseum Zeeland in Nieuwdorp, the province’s largest museum and dedicated to the tumultuous years of the Second World War.