Museum Het Sterkenhuis
Around 1900, Bergen is rapidly changing by attracting more and more artists, tourists and hotels. How to preserve the image of an old village? The answer is given by Marie van Reenen-Völter, wife of Mayor Jacob van Reenen. She transforms one of the rooms of the town hall into the ‘Oud- Berger Kamer’ or the Old Bergen Room.
7th Century farmhouse
More than ten years after the antiquity room has been opened, it is moved to a new location across the street. Apart from the ‘Ruïnekerk’ (the old church), this farmhouse which dates back to 1655 is now the oldest building in Bergen. The local council wants to tear it down, but Jacob Sterken, a resident of Bergen, is able to prevent that. The building gets its name ‘Sterkenhuis’ when the collection of the 'Old Bergen Room' is moved there. On May 2, 1915 the first exhibition is a fact.
More than an antiquity room
From the start, Marie van Reenen writes down all donations and acquisitions along with the donors' names and appraisals. That is why we know today that the eighteenth-century album of drawings by Peter Ellen was worth ten guilders in 1906. After the passing of Marie van Reenen in 1925, the area for collection of 'Het Sterkenhuis' expands. It becomes more than just a room full of antiquities.
Dutch regional fashion
The textile collection surprises with great pieces of Dutch regional fashion from the Baroque and the French Revolution to the Victorian Era: dresses and skirts, but also elegant men’s wear, children’s wear and corsets. The collection also includes exotic fabrics that came to the Netherlands and Bergen in the 17th century due to the trade of the Dutch East India Company (VOC).
Even today, its period room and farmer’s kitchen from around 1900 are among the greatest pieces in the collection. Besides extraordinary silverware, glassware and jewellery, the collection also includes beautiful topographic prints of Bergen by Johannes Graadt van Roggen, Jaap Veldheer en Tjipke Visser. Archaeological findings, dating back to the Stone Age, retell the story of the earliest inhabitants of Bergen.
Historical Year 1799
‘Het Sterkenhuis’ also tells the story of the year 1799, a historical milestone. That very year severe fights occurred in Bergen, also quite literally on the front doorstep of the museum. During the battle the Batavian troops (Dutch/French) fought English and Russian troops. Eight thousand soldiers die. Uniforms, bullets, and guns remind us of that time. Two remembrance wreaths dating back to 1901 are in the museum as well.
If you would like to visit both KRANENBURGH and 'Het Sterkenhuis', it's recommended to buy a combined ticket in one of the museums.