National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden
Special Exhibition – The Buddha 12 February – 14 August 2016


I was born in a Muslim country, raised as a Buddhist and went to a Christian school most of my life. I regard myself as a Buddhist but not religious. Buddhism has always been a fascinating subject to me. It provides inspiration and direction about way of life.
‘Not to do any evil; to cultivate good; to purify one’s heart – this is the teaching of all the Buddhas.’ (Dhammapada, verse 183)

The National Museum of Ethnology (Dutch: Museum Volkenkunde) in Leiden presents a very interesting ‘The Buddha’ exhibition. The museum displays the life of Siddhartha Gautama; when and where he was born and his early life as a young prince kept within the palace ground. It mentioned India as the birth place of Buddhism and how Gautama, known as Buddha (“the awakened one”), was an inspiring teacher captivating audiences across nations. Divided into sections according to countries, the museum highlights the history, places of pilgrimage, festival celebration, relics and the role of Buddhism in Thailand, India, Indonesia, China, Myanmar, Japan and Tibet. You can read about Chinese monastery, understand the Borobudur construction in Indonesia, learn about the huge footprint of Buddha in Myanmar and admire the 35 meters long Vessantara banner (Dutch: Vessantradoek) with scenes from one of the Buddha’s previous life.

The teaching of Buddhism varied in different countries in terms of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices. When you visit, check out the short video documentary about Buddhism in Netherlands (with English subtitles). Did you know the first temple in the Netherlands is a Thai temple located in Waalwijk, North Brabant? Or there is a Tibetan stupa in Hantum, Friesland?

Buddha is one of the most inspiring spiritual leaders ever known. This museum exhibit features different aspects of Buddhism worldwide. It includes objects to tell stories, photos and wall posters, videos and lots of Buddha statues. The National Museum of Ethnology is one of my favorite museums in the Netherlands. It is an endless stroll along the corridors through different continents and countries all under one roof. Temporary exhibition ‘The Buddha’ is located on ground floor passing through Indonesia permanent exhibition. Your visit to ‘The Buddha’ should take a couple of hours. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit.

Opening hours: Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am -5pm
Entrance fees: €14.00 (adults), €6.00 (4-18yrs) and kids 0-4 years are free
Free entry for Museum Card holder and other cards.
Check site for more details and current exhibitions.
Address: Steenstraat 1, 2312 BS Leiden.
How to get there: about 5 minute walk from Leiden train station.

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