Madurodam: The Educational Museum Keeping up with the Times
By Maria Myers
With attention spans of the younger generations shrinking on the daily many museums and familial institutions
are having a hard time keeping up with the on-screen competition.
Hence the steady upgrades made regularly at the Madurodam Museum, located in The Hague, Netherlands. This educational museum is split into three sections; “Water, as a friend and Enemy”, “Historical Cites”, and “The Netherlands as an Inspiration to the World”
Its newest feature was added this past summer 2018, the fifth indoor attraction: Waterwolf.
A Love-Hate Relationship
The Waterwolf is a reference to the destructive Harlem Lake. The interactive attraction takes the visitor back in time to when the Netherlands was mostly inland lakes and rivers.
Most of these lakes were slowly drained with windmills from the 16th century on. All except the elusive Harlem lake, which required the creation of a steam engine larger than anything the world had so far seen.
The museum’s new model focuses on a Cruquius pumping station. As guests young and old pump one of the six moving balancing arms a mock steam engine comes to life.
Arms turn, boilers burn, the whole contraption steaming and shaking. The urgency of the land reclamation is felt and seen – there’s no other experience like it. Without technology such as this the cities of Amsterdam, the Hague, and Leiden would still be disconnected by water.
Propelling Forward, Looking Back
This addition and any other in the recent past have been added in an attempt to boost numbers. One such attraction was added in 2017 to the outside portion of the museum.
In the past three years, statistics have shown that the park is too short and visitors (largely locals) are not likely to come again. More covered attractions have ensured that even in poor weather the community will come en-masse.
Some of these outdoor attractions fall under the historical section, including highlights on important figures like Hugo de Groot and Spinoza, as well as the flood of 1953.
A year before this flood Madurodam was opened, named after a Jewish law student, George Maduro, born and raised in the Dutch Antilles.
After dying in a concentration camp in 1945 his parents donated the funds to create the museum. The original idea was inspired by a miniature-park attraction in England.
The area’s history with miniature models goes further back then that, as Well-off Dutch merchants in the 17th and 18th centuries used to indulge in miniature dolls’ houses. Their insides were ornate and the pieces were more often times than not created in France, with raw materials taken all the way from China.
Some of these infamous dollhouses cost as much as the life-sized houses strewn along the canals of Amsterdam.
The Netherlands in Miniature
Unfortunately, the mini-models at the Madurodam cannot be bought, but their intricacies and attention to detail will keep you spellbound for hours. The little people of the city even change clothes with the seasons.
This feature of the museum is perhaps the most well known; the best-known sites of the Netherlands can come to life in the palm of your hand – but don’t touch! These pieces are highly delicate and took many man-hours to create.
Featured landmarks include the Binnenhof, Schiphol and the Delta works. No model of the area would be complete without an expansive field of tulips, windmills dotted throughout.
Some of these pieces are moving models; if a coin is inserted, bridges will rise and fall and oil tanks “come to life”
Along with it’s interactive and fun approach to education on the sites and accomplishments of the Netherlands, Madurodam also donates regularly to foundations set on the advancement of children’s education and well-being.
Since its opening in 1952, the museum and theme park has donated 34 million euros, that’s an average of 600,000 and 700,000 euros a year.
The museum is open seven days a week, from 9 am to 8 pm. Its location in the city of Hague is ideal for the family getaway or the average traveler looking for less hustle and bustle, though Amsterdam is only a 45-minute train ride away and a 25-minute car ride from Rotterdam.
After your visit to the museum, the beaches at Scheveningen can provide a more natural view of how the locals interact with their “aquatic environment”. Some bodies of water do not require sequestering.
More information on the Madurodam can be found on www.madurodam.nl