As I sat here watching my son at the playground, I wondered about this old discreet workshop housed in a black wooden cottage right next to it. The sign board says 𝗧𝗶𝗲𝗺𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮’𝘀 𝗞𝘂𝗶𝗽𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗷. When translated, kuiperij means cooperage. I haven’t got a clue what that is!
According to the internet, cooperage is the business or premise of making barrels and casks. The maker or repairer is known as cooper. The coopering trade is a disappearing craft in this century.
A highly skilled master cooper craftsman is a rare profession.
Like many attractions in Zaanse Schans, this one was also reconstructed. The interior of the cottage originated from the cooperage trade of S.R. Tiemstra & Sons.
Tiemstra’s Kuiperij was established in 1919 by Simon Tiemstra. The company began in a shed behind the street of Hendrik Soeteboomstraat, in Oostzanerwerf. The coopery was defined as a ‘wet coopery’ because they make containers for wet goods such as herring, beer and other liquors. His two sons, Jaap and Simon, ran the business together until 1987.
On the death of the last cooper, Jaap Tiemstra, in 1999, he bequeathed the entire cooperage to the Zaans Museum.
Now, the entire inventory is on full display contained within a renovated barge-maker (anno 1859) on the Kraaienpad. There are saws, planers, staves, hoops and all other pieces laid and hung exactly as how Tiemstra had left them. Several machinery are careful situated. Everywhere else, there were endless rows of tools; in-shave, curved froe, clapboard, crum knife, flogger, branding iron, block hook, whisk and etc.
During our visit, one of the friendly volunteers was happy to provide us the personalized grand tour. He walked us through a quick step by step on how the casks and barrels were made. I can only imagine how tedious it was to dress the staves (strips of wood) and curving them into shape. Certainly a very meticulous process requiring the highest skills and patience!
After the tour, we ventured around a little longer checking out more strange looking tools and glimpsed at a short film on the process of barrel making.
I reckon all visitors can manage around Tiemstra’s Kuiperij without the guidance of a staff when it is crowded. I found a print-out booklet on the main table amongst the tools with picture explanation. However, if you are clueless, ask if a tour is possible. Meanwhile, enjoy the authentic atmosphere of the past. Feel the spirits of Tiemstra!
The Tiemstra’s Kuiperij was opened on 1 June 2011. It is part of the Zaans Museum.
This ‘museum’ is closed at the moment during the low season.
Address: Kraaienpad. Zaandam.
Opening Hours: 1 April to 1 October opens daily from 11am to 4pm. Closed during the low season from 1 October to 1 April.
Entrance Fees: €2.00 for adults, €1.00 for kids age 4-17 years old and free for children up to 3 years old. Free entry with Museumkaart and Zaanse Schans card.