In part 4 in our series of articles inspired by Orhan Pamuk’s novel, The Museum of Innocence, we look at his choice of small, deeply-personal museums in Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.
“One could gather up anything and everything, with wit and acumen, out of a positive need to collect all objects connecting us to our most beloved, every aspect of their being, and even in the absence of a house, a proper museum, the poetry of our collection would be home enough for its objects.” – Orhan Pamuk
Who can resist a museum of ‘things’? This one chronicles the product culture of the 20th and 21st centuries, marked by mass production and industrial manufacturing. The collection is built around the archive of the Deutsche Werkbund (DWB), a group of German artists, designers and manufacturers that, in the early 20th century, pushed for a cultural utopia achieved through design and lifestyle reform.
Sigmund Freud’s former office and apartment have been restored and document the life and work of the founder of psychoanalysis. The museum includes original furnishings, his waiting room, a selection from his collection of antiquities, and signed copies and first editions of his works.
“In small museum houses the past is preserved within objects as souls are kept in their earthen bodies, and in that awareness I found a consoling beauty that bound me to life.”
This house was the home of Nicolaas Rockox, a key figure in politics, society and culture, until his death in 1640. The house has been filled with artifacts that represent the culture of 17th-century Flanders, with a focus on his interests: archaeology, Roman history, and humanism.
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“I thought it was fitting that they had gathered together all the books in his library… ordering them from largest to smallest, as was customary in the seventeenth century.”
From 1661 to 1663, philosopher Benedictus de Spinoza lived in the house of surgeon Herman Hooman in the village of Rijnsburg, renting a small room where he wrote and cut lenses for optical instruments. The building now houses a collection of vellum and leather bindings that recreate Spinoza’s library, as well as portraits and copies of letters and other documents.
The Swedish author August Strindberg spent the last four years of his life (1908-12) in this apartment in the Blue Tower, which now houses a museum in his honor. It consists of three rooms, his high-art-noveau library with some 3,000 works, his meticulously laid-out desk, a bust of himself made by Carl Eldh, and candlesticks shaped like women’s bodies.