The Hague in the Netherlands is not only the seat of the Dutch parliament, government, Royal Court and the judicial capital of the United Nations. The city is also home to one of the greatest automobile museums in the world, the brand-new Louwman Museum, designed by American architect Michael Graves. The museum is housed in a building with three floors and over 10,000m2 of exhibition space.
This museum has been named after the automobile enthusiasts Pieter and Evert Louwman, who had spent their whole life collecting valuable pieces of automotive art and cars. The Louwman Collection was founded in 1934 by Dodge importer Pieter Louwman, the father of Evert who is the current Dutch importer of Lexus, Toyota and Suzuki. Connoisseurs consider the collection of 230 cars as one of the finest in the world.
The Louwman Collection is internationally oriented and home to the largest collection of cars from the period up to 1919, the dawn of motoring. One of the many highlights in this collection is the 1885 Benz Patent-Motorwagen which is widely regarded as the first automobile.
Also impressive is the 1887 De Dion Bouton et Trépardoux Steam Quadricycle which is powered by a steam engine. A similar car, sometimes been called the world’s first car race, though his was the only car that showed up at the first race, was brought to auction in 2007 and sold for $3,520,000.
The museum also displays a large collection of the current remaining 15 classic cars of the Dutch brand Spyker. Another remarkable example of the great diversity of the collection is the eccentric 1910 Brooke Swancar 25/30, created for an Indian Maharajah. As the name suggests, the design of this car resembles a swan. It should not be very surprising the car was banned due to the distractive nature of the design.
The oldest Toyota still in existence and also one of only two pre-World War II ones could be seen as well. Very noticeable is a special exhibit room full of Bugatti’s, an other room features only the most exclusive Mercedes-Benz cars.
From post-World War II the museum features cars which belonged to Winston Churchill, Steve McQueen, Elvis Presley and the famous Aston Martin DB5 used in the James Bond movie Goldfinger.
A great collection of racing cars is also on display. This includes a large collection of Maserati’s, Alfa Romeo’s and Ferrari’s. Very interesting is the Ferrari 375 Indianapolis which was a complete failure with just one of four 375s even qualifying for the Indycar race. Those who love endurance racing would be pleased to see cars like the Le Mans winning Jaguar D-Type or the great looking McLaren M8 F which also featured in the Can Am racing series. Formula 1 enthusiasts will appreciate the Toyota F1 car of the rare six wheeled March 240-771.
Unique is the room full of automotive related art consisting of old advertisements, paintings and antique photos. There is also a shop and a restaurant.
All information regarding the cars and exhibits is provided in both Dutch and English. The Louwman Museum is a must see for every petrolhead and carlover. The collection of cars and art offers a great variety and covers the whole spectrum of automotive history. So, when you are in the vicinity of The Hague, don’t miss this museum!
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10.00AM – 5.00 PM. For more information visit the homepage of the Louwman Museum.