Cultural entrepreneurship

The Museum of Bags and Purses as a Cultural Entrepreneur

The Museum Hendrikje not only contained a remarkable collection, it turned out to excel in public relations and initiatives in the field of marketing, tourism and education. Though a small museum, it was so popular that large museums such as the Van Gogh Museum, the famous Rijksmuseum and international museums were only too glad to cooperate with the Museum of Bags and Purses.

‘Had a delicious fashion high tea, full of atmosphere, and the food in the shape of shoes and handbags was also in style with the museum. Hospitable staff!’ (Visitor to the Museum of Bags and Purses)

Museum Café and Store

Visitors not only came for the collection of (designer) handbags, they also met friends and family for a nice lunch or a fancy Fashion High Tea. Cakes in the shape of shoes and handbags, such as the famous Chanel 2.55, were a huge success.

‘The museum has fantastic dinners and afternoon teas on offer. Keep off the beaten track and try this museum for a wonderful afternoon.’ (Visitor from Hermosa Beach, Californië, US.)

The museum store was another successful part of the museum. Visitors passed it on their way out, and many a visitor went home with a new bag or purse from a Dutch or foreign designer. Quite popular were Dutch Design bags for example by Hester van Eeghen and the by-Lin company. In addition, the store carried an extensive range of cards, books and gift ideas.

Wedding venue

The splendid second floor period rooms were quite popular as a wedding venue. Many bridal couples favored the rooms with the beautifully painted ceilings as the best spot in Amsterdam to get married. In addition, companies rented these historically interesting rooms for meetings. A famous exclusive Swiss Watch company, for example, when launching its newest collection from there, invited valued clients to attend a watch making workshop.

Workshops and lectures

The Museum Hendrikje used to organize a wide range of entrepreneurial activities: lectures, afternoon activities for children, fashion documentaries, concerts and educational programs. Hundreds of children from Amsterdam’s primary and secondary schools, for example, visited the museum on a yearly basis to learn about handbags and their history. The museum also gave workshops, where visitors were invited to redecorate their handbags and make a pencil case.

The huge collection of bags, purses and accessories inspired students from art academies from all over the world. The students were majoring in design, fashion, bags , jewelry, and textiles, and they learned about the handbag’s history and design. The Museum Hendrikje also organized special tours for design students in the museum’s storage space. Additionally, the museum held rounds of discussion with influential people from the fashion world about current themes in their industry.

‘Not The Typical Amsterdam Museum: A Jewel Box Devoted to Purses.’ (Forbes, 2015)

In addition, the museum welcomed social scientists from all over the world who were researching certain aspects of the history of handbags. The museum also published a book titled ‘Bags’ as well as several articles about the collection.

Collaborative efforts

Being a cultural entrepeneur meant collaborating with authorities both in the Netherlands and abroad. A lot of pieces were loaned to other museums such as the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam, the Art Museum in The Hague, the Fashion Museum in Hasselt, Belgium and many more.

For the exhibit Accessories are a Girl’s Best Friend in 2017 the Museum of Bags and Purses closely cooperated with Amsterdam’s famous Rijksmuseum: it loaned items such as umbrellas, shawls, hats, shoes and other accessories to the Museum Hendrikje.

‘In my opinion this is an underrated little museum. I was so impressed with the collection of purses and how fashion history was explained through the different designs and trends. A must for anyone who loves and follows the history of fashion.'(2019, Visitor from Boston, US)

The museum also promoted young talent in handbag design by working together with the Dutch school for design and craftsmanship in leather and the Dutch Design Week. Of course, the museum took part in large events such as Amsterdam’s Museum Night, which attracted approximately 1,500 visitors.

Several handbag and fashion designers were invited to present their collections in the museum. Furthermore, the museum received bags from renowned fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada and Karl Lagerfeld.