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Middelburg, Zeeuws museum

The Dutch province of Zeeland is not famous for its Roman ruins. The waters in the estuaries of the Scheldt, Meuse, and Waal have destroyed much of the ancient landscape. The main monument, a sanctuary dedicated to Nehalennia, is only known because the altars were dredged from the bottom of the sea.

Still, the Zeeuws Museum (provincial museum) in Middelburg does have a historical department, and there are archaeological finds over there: two beautiful votive offerings to Nehalennia, and three small displays with finds from the first millennium. That’s all there is, and unfortunately, the explanatory signs are disastrous. For example, I saw “pots, earthenware, 450-700”, without reference to the place where they’ve been excavated.

Continuing to other rooms, I discovered that the other nice collections didn’t have sufficient explanatory signs either. There was an interesting, English painting of a political allegory, on which the Low Countries were shown as a cow, fed by Queen Elisabeth, milked by William the Silent, and with Philip of Spain as some kind of cowboy, riding the animal. I would have loved to know more about it, but the explanatory sign only said the “anonymous” work of art represented a “milk cow” from the last part of the sixteenth century. This visitor had already seen that, and would have liked to know what this allegory meant.

So, a museum without explanations. A large sign reminds the visitor that the museum is the winner of the Council of Europe Museum Prize. Ouch.

This museum was visited in 2010.

This page was last modified on 27 March 2014.