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Take a Walk through History at the Museum of Bags and Purses

Take a Walk through History at the Museum of Bags and Purses

What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you think of Amsterdam? Get your head out of the gutter this is not that kind of article. Yes, the fact stands that there are some liberties that is associated with Amsterdam that are rare to find in any other place but keep in mind that it is also a city of rich history, stunning architecture, full of cultural experiences that will nurture your soul and enrich you as a person.

This article focuses on one of those places, the museum of bags and purses!  For those of you who are still with us even after you realized that this article won`t be about what most of us associate Amsterdam with, sit back, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy. Now, a few words about bags themselves.

Bags have been with us in various size shape and form from the earliest stages of civilization. Their initial and main function was purely a practical one and it was all about strong natural materials which support most weight for the longest amount of time.

Bags were made from natural materials and being used every single day on maximum capacity made them and expendable commodity so preserved pieces from these early stages are extremely rare, next to nonexistent and most we can settle for are some depictions on paintings etc.  

In this entire initial period of purely practical use bags were used by men and women equally to the same extent. From the moment pockets were introduced onto man’s clothing the ladies took the primary role when it comes to bags and purses.

From that moment on (more or less) purses for women are beginning their slow evolution and transition from a simple item that carries their belongings to the ultimate fashion accessory (along with shoes, of course, don`t want to get into any trouble for not mentioning shoes in the ultimate accessories category). 

With the beginning of industrialization during the 19th century, new materials were introduced along with bigger and faster manufacturing capacity and of course new designs. The 20th century brought an explosion of various art mediums one of which was fashion.

Design of the handbags closely followed. With further progress in art and design the 20th century brought an expansion of human rights across the board. More and more women were beginning to work and their bags had to be more practical for a busy woman on the go. This short summary brings us to modern times.

Today, bags come in all shapes and sizes and colors and purpose and are being used by men and women alike. Ladies still use them more, however, leather bags for men and bags in general, from various materials, are also an accessory of the stylish men today, bags that are both stylized and practical for carrying their documents, laptops, gym equipment… Anything basically! Due to the increased load, we now carry every day with us, bags have once again become an everyday go-to item for both men and women.   

Let`s talk about the museum itself. Given the fact that bags of various uses were so prominently used throughout history it is a bit of a surprise that this museum was actually formed from a private collection. The year was 1996 when Hendrikje and Heinz Ivo opened their doors to share their vast collection of bags to anyone that would be interested.  

As it turned out a lot of people were, in fact, interested and the museum was up and running! The collection grew bigger and bigger and today it has over 5000 pieces making it the largest collection and the largest museum of its kind in the world. The museum outgrew its initial home and it was time for a new venue and they found the perfect spot!

Situated in the historic Canal Ring Area that is part of the UNESCO Heritage the Canal House is a sight to see. So, in addition to bags, you will get to tour one of the most beautiful and historic places in Amsterdam! This is important to mention since the museum itself features two-period rooms. Both rooms feature authentic decorations and furniture from the 17th and the 18th century and can be booked for all sorts of visits, but we would recommend having lunch there or at least some delicious tea.

When it comes to the actual museum pieces like already mentioned, it is huge with over 5000 pieces on display that tell a story of evolution and human progress in industrialization, production optimization and design all told through the perspective of bags. You can see contemporary pieces, designs from world-famous designers, pieces of luggage, tote bags, leather purses anything imaginable related to the subject.

There is a saying in the fashion world that a good bag can make or break an outfit, paired with the right shoes of course but on its own as well! Men pay attention to bags as accessories to their overall outfits today more and more but a good bag still holds a special place in a woman`s heart. Women will often disregard practicality of usage and even comfort to wear that amazing pair of shoes that don`t quite fit them or that awesome bag that can barely hold their keys in it.

An item that is so important in the fashion sense that is also essential for the practicality of modern-day living, certainly deserves that you set aside a few hours while you are in the beautiful city of Amsterdam to explore its journey and evolution through the ages. So, grab your most stylish and most practical everyday bag and we will see you there!

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