I’m a great fan of small museums – particularly those that tell a story. The Hague is fortunate to have a number of these museums, including the recently-opened Freemasonry Museum. Here you can learn about the past and present of the fraternal order known as The Grand Orient of the Netherlands.
Freemasonry in The Hague
If you walk on Fluwelen Burgwal and come to number 22, you can look up and read the text: ‘Orde van Vrijmetselaren onder het Grootoosten der Nederlanden’ (Order of Freemasons under the Grand Orient of the Netherlands).
This building was given to the Lodge in 1856 by Prince Frederik, a brother of King Willem II. Frederik was Grand Master of the Lodge from 1816 to 1881, so for 65 years! To celebrate his 50th anniversary in that position, he donated a library containing 7000 books and 2000 manuscripts describing the complete history of freemasonry. This library was the life’s work of German physician, freemason and bibliophile Georg Kloss. Hence the name ‘Bibliotheca Klossiana’.
Second World War
Nazi Germany, which occupied the Netherlands beginning in May 1940, considered freemasonry to be an ‘enemy of the people’. By the spring of 1941, the Germans had confiscated most of the library, archives and collections of the ‘Bibliotheca Klossiana’. Some of the organisation’s holdings were returned to the Netherlands in 1946. The archives, however, had been taken from Germany to Moscow by the Red Army and only returned in 2004. Most of the museum’s collections, unfortunately, were never found.
The Freemasonry museum
The freemasons left the Fluwelen Burgwal in the 90s. Today you can admire their collections in a beautiful building on Javastraat. Built in 1908, it was originally commissioned by the furniture manufacturer Pander and designed by the architects A.P. Smits and J. Fels.
What is on display
The Museum tells the history and explains the meaning of Freemasonry through a time line, accompanied by paintings and special objects associated with the organisation.
And you can visit a Temple.
So The Hague has another interesting museum. Scheduled tours (in Dutch) take place from October 13 every Friday at 11 am, 2.30 and 3 pm. Guided tours in English by request. More information and reservations.
You can combine your visit to the museum with a walk through the beautiful Willemspark and Archipelbuurt. More info
*Collection Freemasonry Museum