The Canon of Dutch History

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The canon of Dutch history

A journey through our country's history, from megaliths to the modern day

From 23 September the Canon of Dutch History will be on display at the Holland Open Air Museum in Arnhem: a presentation covering the complete history of our country, ‘from megaliths to the modern day’. This new presentation, developed in close partnership with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, offers an insight into the highs and lows of Dutch history through people, events and themes from our past. 


It mixes digital media with authentic, historic objects from our own collection, as well as loans, including objects from the Rijksmuseum. In addition, it places the origins of the Netherlands in a wider context, in terms of its population, climate and geography. The Open Air Museum will also be organising temporary exhibitions based around the Canon of Dutch History. Central to these is The Story of the Netherlands, the new interactive presentation in the large, completely refurbished dome. Spectacular film sets, one running into another, are used to present ten different periods, constructed from fragments of historic buildings and monuments between which visitors can wander freely. The 50 windows of the Canon of Dutch History have been incorporated into these ten periods in the form of historic objects and audiovisual presentations. Above the sets skies are projected onto the ceiling, transforming the dome into a fascinating historic landscape.


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The Canon of Dutch History

The Canon of Dutch History

Canon windows in the museum park

Various windows of the Canon can already be found around the park. For example, a presentation about Charlemagne has been incorporated into the monastery garden and in the village school from Lhee the link between education and child labour is made clear. In the Green Cross health centre we meet Willem Drees, the founder of our welfare state, while the Rietveld holiday chalet sheds light on the art movement De Stijl. You can also watch the play ‘Boeldag in Beerta’ (‘Auction in Beerta’) to find out what life must have been like during the crisis years.

Find out more about the Canon windows in the park

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Canon Network

We obviously weren’t around when these historical events took place, but we are now making history together. To make this possible, we are working closely with other parties within the Netherlands.


The following organisations are participating in the Canon network: Amsterdam Museum, Hunebedcentrum (Megalith Centre), Museum Catharijneconvent, Museum Prinsenhof Delft, Nationaal Militair Museum (National Military Museum), Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (National Museum of World Cultures), Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision), Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) and Scheepvaartmuseum (National Maritime Museum). The website, the Rijksmuseum and the Allard Pierson Museum are network partners. 


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