A culture ebbs away: origins of the Zuiderzee Museum
The Zuiderzee Museum was founded in 1948 with the purpose of recording the fishing culture around the former Zuiderzee. When the Zuiderzee was cut off from the North Sea in 1932, thus becoming an inland sea, people were concerned that the culture of the former Zuiderzee region would also disappear completely. For this reason, 130 historical buildings were allocated a spot in the open-air section of the Zuiderzee Museum.
The Association of Friends of the Zuiderzee Museum, established in 1947, was responsible for the Zuiderzee Museum assuming concrete form. The indoor Museum opened in 1948, and consisted of the monumental Peperhuis (Pepper House) and five adjoining buildings. However, it would take until 6 May 1983 before the Zuiderzee Museum could open the outdoor part to the general public.
The museum village was built in the IJsselmeer, on the outside of the seawall separating Enkhuizen from the water on its east side. A peninsula was created by spraying up sand from the seabed. The first plan for an outdoor section of the Zuiderzee Museum dates from 1946. The erstwhile director, Siebe Jan Bouwma (1899-1959), was responsible for developing this plan.
It was only in 1968 that the construction of this section was started, based on a ground plan by Nico Heyligenberg (1931-?). The chapel from Den Oever was the first building to be (re)constructed here.
To find the most suitable houses for the museum village, Zuiderzee Museum members of staff went on trips to various municipalities, looking for interesting buildings. In 1967, all municipalities around the former Zuiderzee received a letter asking them ‘if there were perhaps any buildings, large or small, now earmarked for demolition, which could be regarded as characteristic of the former situation on the edges of the Zuiderzee’. Many of the municipalities responded spontaneously and positively to this appeal; accordingly, houses from Kampen and Harderwijk were dispatched to the Zuiderzee Museum. Only very occasionally did the Museum actually buy a building, most were donated by the municipalities in question.
In the definitive situation, the Zuiderzee Museum took into account the geographical origins, the function and the social environment of the house in question, as well as the building style, the size and the façade within which the premises would be included.
Parts of the old ground plans of Zuiderzee towns were used and combined in such a way that they formed a natural whole. Streets, paths, ditches and canals were assigned exactly the same dimensions as in their former situation. Historically responsible paving, revetment walls and ground partitions had to complete the natural picture. Various neighbourhoods were created in this way: the church neighbourhood, the dike buildings, the town canal and the fishing village, with a small polder between these last two. The Marker neighbourhood (based on a copy of the village of Marken), with the fishing harbour, was the last neighbourhood to be created.
To preserve the character of the buildings, with an emphasis on traces of usage, repairs, weather influences etc., it was decided to move some of the buildings in separate segments. Large components were packed in an iron frame equipped with hoisting rings. The façade was clamped in the frame by means of planks and wooden wedges.
In addition, houses were also transported to the Zuiderzee Museum in their entirety. This occurred for the first time in 1971, with one of the last fishermen’s houses from Vollenhove. A frame of heavy iron beams was installed under the walls and this served as a sleigh. By means of braces, struts and cables, the house was wrapped up and reinforced, after which the whole package was lifted by two cranes and moved to the harbour. It was loaded onto a flush-decked barge and taken across the IJsselmeer to Enkhuizen. In the outdoor museum, it was dragged on to dry land and carried between two cranes to its new foundations. This method was used for houses of stone or wood. The most spectacular operation was the transport of the cheese warehouse from Landsmeer in 1980.
Not all houses that were on the list of desirable properties were actually acquired by the Zuiderzee Museum. Some premises became listed buildings or enjoyed an important position in their original town or village. In order to include these buildings in the layout plan of the Zuiderzee and to produce a picture that was as lifelike as possible, replicas were produced. As a consequence, the lifeboat house, the school from Kollum and the Kampen neighbourhood are all on show in the open-air museum.