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The House of Wonders: A Step into the 19th Century

If you have a yearning for a Victorian era museum you can visit in a single room, BV Limburg and Zicht op Maastricht are making that possible with Het Huis der Wonderen (House of Wonders). Located in the Hooftwacht on the Vrijthof, you can visit this small collection of weird things, Limburgish memorabilia and other “rarities” for just 2 euros from now until 11 January, 2011.

I have a soft spot in my heart for 19th century type museums and curiosity shows, with all their strange, fake, and sometimes wildly inappropriate displays. So it was with that in mind I approached the House of Wonders. I was not disappointed.

Just a corner of the exhibition.

Curiosities are packed into narrow display cases; carefully arranged and only lightly labeled so you may woo and ahh at will (and with minimal context, just the way they liked it in the 19th century). The objects are organized into a wide variety of subjects including medical weirdness, Limburgish memorabilia, natural history, prehistory, mining and a host of other things. I don’t want to give away too much about what’s inside the exhibit; discovery is the best part of the House of Wonders, but be on the look out for a pancake with Jesus’ face and a stuffed hunting fox. Like with actual Victorian age exhibits, it’s up to you to decide what’s real and what’s not, but you will certainly have fun puzzling it out.

The curiosities extended to some Limburg region specific items as well (including several things that are 20th century). You can look at old mining paraphernalia from Maastricht, tourist souvenirs from Valkensburg, and Gualish themed mini-statues from Tongeren. There are also some objects from famous people, including (apparently) Andre Rieu’s first violin. My favorite regional curiosity is a clod of grass purported to be the actual “Drielandenpunt” from the location of the same name near Vaals. After your visit, you can also pick up a free booklet full of stories about Limburg and this project (in Dutch).

Walking sticks. Not sure where these are from.

So if you’re in the mood, grab your parasol or your gentleman’s cane, and enjoy this small but entertaining exhibit on the Vrijthof. The exhibit is open Tuesday through Friday, 11 am to 5 pm.

If you’re a student interested in this sort of thing, BV Limburg is looking to hire a part-timer who wants to learn more about Limburgish history and create and maintain exhibitions like this one. I’m told that you need to speak a little Dutch and that it is a paid position. Interested students should contact or 062749291 for more information and to apply.

Source: This article was original posted on Maastricht Region To Live.

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