Report and photos (unless noted) by Peter Helbach
The Louwman Museum was opened by HRH Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on July 2, 2010. This opening marked the culmination of eight years of very hard work by Mr. Evert Louwman and his management team, led by Museum director Ronald Kooyman. Regulations being what they are, this was the time it took, from the first application to build a museum to the actual opening.
Beginning on the Louwman Collection
Mr. Louwman’s father, Piet Louwman, started collecting cars as early as 1931, when a client (Mr. Louwman Sr. was in the business of importing and selling cars in Holland, among which Dodge) traded in his Dodge 1914 model (a car with all mod-cons) for something newer. This car is “the mother lode” of the Museum and takes a place of pride. The car collecting bug had found very fertile ground and Louwman never looked back. Now the Museum itself houses 236 cars of a great variety and is considered to be one of the finest all-round collections in the world.
The collection grew over the years, either by buying individual cars or by buying whole collections. With Dutch car manufacturing being a small industry, particular pride was taken in buying Dutch cars such as Spyker, of which the Museum has thirteen of the surviving sixteen! The most recent acquisition was the Bianco Rosso collection, formerly based in Asschaffenburg, Germany, owned at that time by Maserati enthousiast Peter Kaus. This collection, mostly twoseater sports-racing cars, is now a prominent part of the Museum.
The building, on the edge of The Hague, a town which houses among others the seat of the Dutch Government, is located in a prominent place next to the N44, the main road out of town towards Leiden and Amsterdam. It was designed by the well known American architect Micheal Graves, who also designed the Ministry of Education in The Hague. The layout is vaguely reminiscent of a large country house, many of which were located in that area in the past. The exhibition space is around 10,0000 sq. m. In addition to that there are function rooms and a full-blown theatre. So, if you want to have a party and see cars, THIS IS IT. The building is surrounded by a landscaped garden which, once fully grown, can only enhance the surroundings.