Looking for a Unique Museum in HaarlemHeather Tucker, Friday, September 13, 2013
Haarlem is known for its historic buildings, great shopping opportunities and its ample supply of cafes. Starting out the day enjoying a drink at one of the cafes that lines the main square is without a doubt, a great idea. But I was on the search for something different, something more unusual in the city during my last visit there.
A quick stop at the tourism office (the VVV) was exactly what I needed as inside I stumbled across a leaflet for a more unique museum and immediately decided to visit.
The Dolhuys is a museum north of Haarlem’s central station (another worthwhile stop) that lets you explore the world of mental disorders and psychiatry in a hand’s on way. The exhibitions inside are unique and varied and the museum itself has received several awards for the way it helps visitors better understand the discipline of psychiatry.
The exhibitions feature many first person stories and plenty of artefacts to bring the subject to life. You even get your own stethoscope to use to activate the information panels in the main hall. Another highlight is the older psychology/mental health “tests” you can complete on computers near the small cafe.
While the exhibitions make the museum interesting enough for a visit, the added element is that the the Dolhuys served as the city’s insane asylum during the 16th century. In each room (or in the non-Dutch language guides) you can find signs with information about what each room used to be used for.
It is easy to spend several hours at the museum which means you will have just enough time to head back into the centre of town for a well deserved coffee or a mini shopping spree. Or you could always head back to the VVV office to pick up some of the free guided walk leaflets they have.
No matter how you decide to spend your day in Haarlem, it will no doubt be an enjoyable one.