2_3_DiscoverBenelux_Issue14_January2015_Scan Magazine 1 26/01/2015 19:17 Page 42
A taxing history TEXT: MYRIAM GWYNNED DIJCK | PHOTOS: BELASTING & DOUANE MUSEUM
Why do we pay taxes? Since when does a part of our income go to the taxman, and where does it end up? These and other questions are answered in the interesting and interactive Belasting & Douane Museum, taking you on a revealing journey through a thousand years of Dutch tax history. Through unique documents, historic objects, artworks and compelling stories, visitors to the Belasting & Douane Museum in Rotterdam (Tax & Customs Museum) can explore the historical development of taxes. The permanent exhibition Trust and Justice shows the importance of a good relationship between government and the public, based on mutual trust and compliance. “Tax is a subject that touches everyone,” says Anne Houk de Jong who works at the museum. “We expect the government to spend our money wisely, but as you’ll see in the museum, history shows that the balance between expectations and willingness is sometimes severely put to the test.” Two years ago the permanent exhibition
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was updated with many new themes, modern art, interactive displays and a new discovery route for children. “We are housed in two beautiful historical buildings, many visitors are surprised how modern it is inside and also by the museum’s variety. There is something for everyone, from experts to kids, from schools to families,” she continues. In the Tiende Penning Theater, for example, it is revealed how the 16th century Dutch Revolt can be seen as a tax war; the Tax ceiling shows where our money actually ends up; there is a listening Ear to speak your mind on tax issues, and at the Heart you can monitor your ideal tax system. De Jong adds: “We also show examples of tax avoidance or evasion, such as tax havens.” An important part of the museum is dedicated to customs and border control. The world of customs is revealed through uniforms, quality control and measuring instruments (for example for wheat, alcohol or silver), contraband and other objects
and videos that show the risks and illegality of smuggling. “What is and isn’t allowed is not always clear-cut: think about fake branded clothing, copied film DVDs or protected animals,” says De Jong. The museum tries to make people more aware of this, especially when travelling. “Through Schiphol airport the subject really appeals to everyone,” she adds. “Even to children, who can check bags at the Museum’s DouaneDek. Dutch illustrator Charlotte Dematons created a giant Schiphol picture book, full of travellers, luggage, smugglers, customs officers, tracker dogs, contraband, souvenirs… revealing all the hidden items.” The museum is open daily apart from Mondays. Adults pay €5.50 and museumkaart holders, schools, students, and children under 18 go free. www.bdmuseum.nl
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