They just don’t make museums like they used to, unfortunately. The Teylers Museum, the oldest in the Netherlands, began as a private collection, donated to the state by Mr Teyler in the eighteenth century and added to in the intervening years.
Teyler and subsequent curators put together anything which took their fancy, so the museum houses an extraordinary mish-mash of treasures.
The building itself is worth the price of admission (EUR9), all gleaming carved wood and creaky floors, onto which light streams from elaborate cupolas above.
Then there’s the eclectic, jumbled collection of art, fossils and scientific instruments, labeled with hand-written cards.
There’s the perfect imprint of an archaeopteryx, frozen in clay with wings spread, every feather visible. In the next room are gleaming bronze telescopes in mahogany cases and an eighteenth century globe with a rough guess at Australia’s coastline, a misshapen Arnhemland and Tasmania connected to Victoria.
In the modern wing, the current exhibition Gadgets and Games traces the history of the telephone and the electric bike and kids can see a weird old construction toy called ‘meccano’.
I spot my old Akai reel to reel tape recorder (I still have it in the attic along with tapes of music painstakingly recorded from LP records. There are early photocopiers and early computers and the 1980s come flooding back. They were about five years ago in my mind, but to the young visitors they no doubt seem ancient.
Haarlem is one of my favourite Dutch towns, and the Teylers is one of my favourite museums in the world.