“Speelgoedmuseum? Are we not too old for this?”, asked my 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son as we walked into the building.
Well, it was definitely not what we expected.
So, Speelgoedmuseum is a Toy Museum (formerly Toy and Tin Museum) occupying two late medieval merchant houses on the Brink, in the center of Deventer, since 1983. The museum showcases the development of toys in the Netherlands from the past till present. Speelgoedmuseum presents 18th century dolls to computer games. It keeps and manages more than 13.000 objects. The largest public collection of toys in the Netherlands! The museum collection is spread out over three floors and into break-up of six main rooms, each focuses on one theme. The themes are Doll Room, Dollhouse Room, Optical Room, Attic Play Room, Transportation Room and Trains Room.
First stop, the Doll Room on level one. My kids and I were no fans of dolls! Nevertheless, I gave it a chance and had a quick look around. According to the information on the wall, there were dolls dating as far back as 1750 to the present days. Included were a few unusual ones from various materials such as wood, wax, ceramics, celluloid and plastic, all displayed in glass cabinets to be admired only.
The following room was the exhibit Dollhouse Room. It has beautiful examples of dollhouses from the period 1850, a carousel, miniature shops, a class scene and other scenarios. It was interesting to see how doll houses have progressed over the century.
Up at the Optical Room was probably the most delightful exhibition of all. We were able to play with old-fashioned toys such as kaleidoscope, stereoscopes, magic lanterns, laughing mirror, see holograms come to life, make a short film using the green screen and try out other mind boggling tricks. My kids were fascinated.
On the top floor at the Attic Play Room, was a huge open area suitable for little kids to play house, set-up wooden train tracks, build towers using Lego or Kapla or engage in a puppet theatre show. A cozy zone where adults can relax on large bean bags while the children explore.
Down at the Transportation Room, it was loaded with classic toy cars, zeppelin, horse carriages, steam train, other model trains, double-decker plane, more model planes and a rocket. We casually inspected the vintage collection that we never knew existed. None of these were meant for playing, but for museum display purposes only.
As we moved on to the next room, we came across a spacious game hall of board games. We tried a round of chess and spent the longest time playing the word search game.
Last but not least, the Train Room provided demonstration of several motorized Märklin trains, set on a mountain tableau. It was mesmerizing to watch as the trains went past the miniature houses, stations, through the tunnels and over the bridges, again and again. Not forgetting to admire a wall full of old trains from brands such as Hornby, Trix, Bing, Fischer and Fleischmann.
Our museum tour ended back on the ground floor where the museum shop is located. It has the usual souvenirs, books and most of all, nostalgic toys that (maybe) you had always wanted! There was no museum café considering it was a child-friendly museum. However, there is a coffee corner selling drinks, available for a reasonable price. Since the buildings are historical monuments, they have poor accessibility for people with reduced mobility and the inconvenience if you are using baby strollers.
The Speelgoedmuseum offers an overview of toys history in the Netherlands. Something I knew nothing about as I grew up on the other side of the world. We expected the museum to be more lively and amusing, but it certainly has its sentimental charms. Without a doubt, it is a family-friendly museum where adults can rediscover their childhood toys together with their children or grandchildren. A nice and affordable museum experience for everyone to enjoy under 90 minutes.
Address: Brink 47. 7411 BV Deventer.
Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 11am – 5pm. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Entrance Fees: €5.00 for adults, €2.00 for kids age 4-18 years old and free entry for kids under 4 years old. Free entry for Museumkaart holders. Combi adult ticket with Deventer Toy Museum for just €10.00.
Getting There: 10 minutes walk from Deventer train station.