Museum of bags and purses,an impressive collection of over 4,000 items dating back to the 16th century

 
 
 
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The Museum of Bags and Purses, located in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is a unique museum, the largest of its kind in the world, devoted to historic handbags, purses, and suitcases that range from the Middle Ages through to the present.

The museum’s collection includes 4,000 items dating back to the 16th century.

The only place in the world where visitors will find so many beautiful, valuable, playful and exciting handbags in one collection. Photo Credit
The only place in the world where visitors will find so many beautiful, valuable, playful and exciting handbags in one collection. Photo Credit1 Photo Credit2

 

The collection demonstrates that the bag exists in a wide variety of forms, functions, materials and decorations. Photo Credit
The collection demonstrates that the bag exists in a wide variety of forms, functions, materials and decorations. Photo Credit

This private museum was set up by an antiques dealer from Amstelveen, Hendrijke Ivo. Her lifelong fascination with bags started when she came across an ancient green tortoiseshell purse dating back to 1820. She was just charmed by the object, and fascination changed into a real passion of gathering extraordinary handbags.

The story of this fascinating collection of bags started when Hendrikje Ivo bought a handbag from 1820. Photo Credit
The story of this fascinating collection of bags started when Hendrikje Ivo bought a handbag from 1820. Photo Credit

 

What started out as a personal fascination has grown to become an extensive collection. Photo Credit
What started out as a personal fascination has grown to become an extensive collection. Photo Credit

 

Situated in a magnificent canal house, a former residence of the mayor in 1664. Photo Credit
Situated in a magnificent canal house, a former residence of the mayor in 1664. Photo Credit

For more than 35 years, with help from her husband Heinz and her daughter Sigrid, Hendrikje collected more than 4000 bags. She soon decided to show part of the collection to the public.

The museum originally opened in Amstelveen in 1996, but as the collection grew, in 2007 it moved into a 17th Century patrician house at the Herengracht, Amsterdam’s most prestigious canal.

The museum originally opened in Amstelveen in 1996. Photo Credit
The museum originally opened in Amstelveen in 1996. Photo Credit

 

From historical highlights from the 16th century to the timeless classics of modern design from the most famous designers. Photo Credit
From historical highlights from the 16th century to the timeless classics of modern design from the most famous designers. Photo Credit

 

The earliest handbags in the museum's collection are typically small, used to carry coins, keys and sewing kits. Photo Credit
The earliest handbags in the museum’s collection are typically small, used to carry coins, keys and sewing kits. Photo Credit

Visitors get to see how the bag has developed over hundreds of years in terms of both design and materials used (including a variety of animal skins).

Among the highlights, there are Margaret Thatcher’s iconic handbag and a Versage evening bag worn by Madonna for the première of the movie Evita.

One of only three museums across the globe specializing in the field, and its collection is the world's largest. Photo Credit
One of only three museums across the globe specializing in the field and its collection is the world’s largest. Photo Credit

Today, the Museum of Bags and Purses is a serious institution. Aside from the permanent historical collection, the museum holds temporary themed exhibitions where young designers, mostly Dutch, have a chance to show their work to a larger audience.