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Say Aaa > Sun 29 Oct 2017

Admire the collection of gapers (literally ‘yawners’) – model heads that used to be displayed on Dutch pharmacies – in the new exhibit Say Aaa at the Zuiderzee museum in Enkhuizen. Police officers wearing helmets, firemen, men with turbans, jesters with bells and sick people with cloths around their heads can all be discovered in the pharmacy building at the Outdoor Museum. This great diversity of gapers graced the walls of pharmacies and drugstores across the Netherlands at a time when there were no illuminated signs or neon green crosses and not everyone could read yet. At the Zuiderzee museum you can see the largest publicly accessible collection of big gapers. And of course you won’t be leaving before sticking out your own tongue for a ‘gaper selfie’.

The gapers are laughable, or even pitiful, and simultaneously exotic and mysterious. They all stare motionlessly ahead; the mouth open wide with a protruding tongue. The exhibition features 27 gapers; you can discover the history of the various gapers and many facts about this unusual phenomenon. Are you already curious about the remarkable heads? In collaboration with the Foundation for Pharmaceutical Heritage (Stichting Farmaceutisch Erfgoed), the gapers have been photographed in 3D and are being exhibited online by the National Pharmaceutical Museum (Nationaal Farmaceutisch Museum). You can see them here, along with gapers from other collections.

Pharmacy ‘De Groote Gaper’

On the facade of the pharmacy building at the outdoor museum, you can see a replica of the original gaper that hung on the facade of drugstore ‘De Groote Gaper’ in Hoorn. The pharmacy was in operation until 1978, at which time the Zuiderzee Museum first acquired the shop front. The gaper was later given to the museum on long-term loan and can be seen at the exhibition.