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30 Prinsessegracht
Den Haag, ZH, 2514 AP
Netherlands

Museum Meermanno | Huis van het boek (vroeger Meermanno-Westreenianum) is het oudste boekenmuseum ter wereld. Het is gevestigd in het voormalige woonhuis van de stichter van het museum Willem Hendrik Jacob baron van Westreenen van Tiellandt (1783-1848) aan de Prinsessegracht in Den Haag en richt zich op het geschreven en gedrukte boek in al zijn vormen, in heden en verleden. De ontwikkeling van de vormgeving van zowel oude als moderne boeken staat daarbij centraal.

The scriptorium

THE SCRIPTORIUM

Anyone visiting the Museum Meermanno in the morning is very likely to run into a school class : children kneeling in front of the display case in the rear hall, looking at the mummy of the cat (‘Isn’t that downright pitiful!’) or on their way to the attic, where the scriptorium has been established. 

You can do all kinds of things in the scriptorium. Dressed in a monk’s robe and using a goose quill pen you can write a text of your own or copy one of the rules of Augustine in Gothic characters. You can set some text by hand with metal printing type, as it was done in the past, and read the words back to front for a moment. A school newspaper or a birthday bulletin can be made on the Apple computers, using a desktop publishing programme especially designed for the museum. A newspaper such as this can be printed and folded within the hour.

Meanwhile, anyone visiting the Museum Meermanno in the afternoon is very likely to encounter adult groups. They often end up in the scriptorium too, because the museum’s educational programme is such a big success. Since the renovation of the attic in 2000, the number of groups has increased from 40 to as many as 400 on an annual basis – about half are children and the rest are adults.

All groups experience the same arrangement: work in the attic is combined with a visit to the collection. Prior to the calligraphy lesson with a goose quill pen, you will be shown manuscripts (in which you will see that monks, too, regularly left out words and even sentences). Examples of early printing will inspire you to hand-set metal printing type. Fine objects from the modern collection are examined before creating work on the Apple computers.

In most museums you may only look at things. In the Museum Meermanno you can also do things – and this naturally encourages a love of books.