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Europe’s largest museum of bags and purses closes its doors for good

By Weixin Zha

1 May 2020

On March 13, the Tassenmuseum Hendrikje in Amsterdam closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It’s now become clear that Europe’s largest museum of bags and purses will not be reopening.

The museum, which is situated along the picturesque Herengracht in Amsterdam, has not received enough sponsorships and subsidies to provide the financial support necessary to remain open. Currently, in order to curb the spread of Covid-19, all museums in the Netherlands are closed.

Photo: Exhibition Royal Bags / Kenneth Stamp, Tassenmuseum Hendrikje

“I am very sad that I have to close the doors to this special house, this beautiful museum,” said Manon Schaap, who has been the director of the Amsterdam Museum of Bags and Purses since March 2019. “My team and I had been working on bringing the vision of bags, identity, fashion, métier and society to life. Unfortunately, reality has caught up with us.”

Amsterdam Museum of Bags and Purses had more than half a million visitors

Located in the former 17th century mayor’s house, the museum contains roughly 500 years of history surrounding bags and purses. Its own history started in 1996 in the Amstelveen home of collector Hendrikje Ivo. In 2007, with the help of a donation, the collection was moved to the elegant, Dutch Golden Age rooms along the Herengracht.

Photo: Louis Vuitton hat case, approximately 1910. Photo via Tassenmuseum Hendrikje.

Half a million people have visited the museum since the move and, yearly, it attracted around 70,000 visitors from the Netherlands and wider world who were interested in its exhibitions ranging from Elizabeth II’s royal bags, Grace Jelly’s male handbags and the ‘Forever Vintage’ bags from the 1920s to 1940s. The museum not only wanted to present the history of bags, but also that of fashion, design and society. Its collection, composed of about 5,000 pieces, also includes a grey Asprey leather bag that belonged to British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and a bag from Karl Lagerfeld’s capsule collection ‘Choupette in Love’. 32 employees and 55 volunteers worked for the museum before the shutdown.

Now, after closing, the museum is aiming to keep the collection together, though how this will happen and where it will be exhibited in future is not yet clear.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.DE, translated and edited.

Photo credit: Amsterdam Museum of Bags and Purses