Things to do in Amsterdam – Visit Museum Willet-Holthuysen
Of the various grachtenhuizen that we’ve visited in Amsterdam, the Willet-Holthuysen house is our favorite.* It’s a grand canal house that was built in 1685 for Jacob Hop, a top official in the government of the Dutch Republic, and named for its last inhabitants – Louisa Holthuysen-Willet, who inherited the property from her father, and lived here with her husband Abraham Willet. The Willet-Holthuysen house has been a museum since 1895, when Louisa bequeathed the property to the city of Amsterdam, with the stipulation that it be preserved and opened to the public.
The rooms are decorated with period pieces from Louisa and Abraham’s private collection, as well as items acquired from various properties in Amsterdam. The overall affect is a beautiful representation of the riches enjoyed by a wealthy 19th century family.
The grand staircase leads first to the bel etage or main level.
Here is where you can step into the Ladies’ Salon where Louisa received her afternoon visitors,
the Ballroom decorated in Louis XVI-style,
and Abraham’s Club Room or ‘art viewing’ room with its 18th century ceiling that is not original to the house.
At the end of the main entrance hall is the conservatory, where Louisa enjoyed her summer-time tea overlooking the garden. You’ll also get a glimpse of the dining room and the dining table set with just a few of the 275 pieces of the family’s Meissen china (obviously so many were needed when serving a 12 course meal in the late 1800s). Unique to the house and located above the dining room is the mezzanine storage chamber which is currently undergoing renovation.
The upper level of the house consists of a bedroom decorated in 19th century style and two rooms converted to exhibit Abraham’s collection of artefacts.
Of interest here are a silver book covering and original paintings, some depicting Louisa’s beloved pets.
In the sub-level rooms, you’ll find the ticket office, the servants areas and kitchen, which allows access to the formal garden.
The present-day garden is an 18th century version of a 17th century French-style symmetrical garden. Originally, the garden was much smaller, since the coachhouse and stables were located at the back of the lot. Unfortunately, these were destroyed by fire in 1929 and never rebuilt. Nowadays, passersby on Amstelsstraat, can peak through the gate for a glimpse of these lovely manicured gardens.
Museum Willet-Holthuysen is located in the grachtengordel at Herengracht, 605.