Discover Benelux, Issue 45, September 2017

Page 42

Discover Benelux  |  The Netherlands  |  Top Art & Culture Spots

The art of the automobile TEXT: MICHIEL STOL  |  PHOTOS: LOUWMAN MUSEUM

Those who say that a car is simply a mode of transport need to visit the Louwman Museum in The Hague. Here, you will learn that the automobile is far more than that: it is ‘the inspiration of art’. The collection of cars exhibited at the Louwman Museum tell the history of one of the most important innovations in the last two centuries, how it inspired creatives from all over the world and how artists designed iconic body works. “These days, cars are produced, back then they were created and built,” tells managing director Ronald Kooyman. Each of the 260 pieces are original and authentic. “And with a little preparation, they all still run, from the oldest ‘horseless carriages’ from the 1880s to the Toyota Formula One racing car built in 2009.”

Specially designed In 2010, Queen Beatrix opened the current location of the museum in The Hague. “Our neighbour, so to speak; the Royal Palace is next to the museum,” smiles Kooyman. The building is designed by renowned American architect Michael Graves, and it is the only building designed by him that is asymmetrical. “It in42  |  Issue 45  |  September 2017

corporates modern details with distinctive Dutch elements.” Parts of the museum are available to rent, to host an exclusive dinner or a corporate event.

Private collection The Louwman Museum houses the biggest private car collection in the world. The Louwman family were importers and distributors of Dodge and in 1934 Pieter Louwman obtained his first car, a 1914 Dodge. “The goal was to preserve it for history.” From there on, Louwman obtained only unique and original cars. Among the collection are truly exclusive objects, such as a 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood owned by Elvis Presley, the 1954 Humber Pullman privately owned by Sir Winston Churchill, the iconic Aston Martin DB5 used by James Bond (played by Sean Connery) in Goldfinger and the Ferrari 500 Superfast of HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. The collection also shows the different trends in engineering, from steam cars, to early electric cars and even jet engine-powered ones.

the early days on, the motorcar was an inspiration for artists,” Kooyman explains. “They were the basis for historical posters, paintings, drawings, sculptures and toys. They tell the story of how important the car was for society.” There is a complete wing dedicated to these artworks.

One of its kind While there are several car museums around the globe, you will not find one this elaborate anywhere else in the world. “The collection is not just cars, it is the preservation of the history of the automobile and the place it holds in our culture. At the Louwman Museum, you will find authentic cars that were iconic and trendsetting in their time, both technologically and design-wise. It is simply the most beautiful collection of cars in the world!” Mercedes-Benz SSK 1929.

Art inspired by cars If you think that the Louwman Museum is just for petrolheads, you are wrong. “From