One of the worlds largest and most famous collections of historic automobiles is on public display in the new Louwman Museum
in The Hague. The museum building, which was designed by American architect Michael Graves, not only houses over 230 historic cars, but is also home to the worlds largest collection of automotive art.
The museum contains the private collection of Dutch car importer Evert Louwman, which experts have described as unique. The museum aims to provide the clearest and most fascinating illustration possible of the development of the automobile since 1886, when the very first car was built. Pioneering automobiles from the late nineteenth century sit alongside racing cars, sports cars and luxury limousines.
The collection contains a broad spectrum of automobiles
In the Louwman Museum almost all the vehicles, most of which are rare examples, are preserved in their original, often unrestored state. A prime example is the second-oldest automobile in the world a De Dion Bouton & Trépardoux from 1887 complete with original signs of wear. The contrasts between the magnificent luxury cars of the 1920s and 30s and some of the first attempts at affordable family cars are stark, as are the differences between the American, Japanese and national European cultures and the cars to which they gave rise.
The collection also contains a broad spectrum of other vehicles, including bubble cars, steam cars, electric cars and historic racing cars driven by such legends as Tazio Nuvolari. Other noteworthy vehicles include the eccentric Swan Car from 1910, a hybrid Woods from 1917, the Jaguar D-type 1957 Le Mans winner and James Bond's original Aston Martin DB5.
Plentiful examples of Dutch motoring heritage
Dutch motoring heritage is, of course, exceptionally well-represented. The Louwman Museum boasts the worlds largest collection of Spykers, as well as the last surviving Eysink from Amersfoort and a DAF 600 prototype from 1957. The collection includes other cars with a Dutch background story, such as the Ferrari that belonged to HRH Prince Bernhard and the orange racing Porsche owned by Esquire Carel Godin de Beaufort.
An extensive display of previously unseen automotive art
The museum contains more than just cars. The collection of automotive art, which includes paintings, sculptures and posters, forms an additional and unique attraction. This collection of automotive art, the largest in the world, has never before been on public display and is being exhibited in a specially-designed room.
Louwman Museum: back on historic ground
Piet Louwman, the father of the present owner, began building the collection in 1934. The first automobile was a 1914 Dodge, which still has pride of place in the collection. In 1968, the museum opened in Leidschendam and was known as the Nationaal Automobiel Museum (Dutch National Motor Museum), but moved to Raamsdonksveer in 1981. The Hague was chosen as the site of the new museum as the city constitutes a prestige location that befits this unique and world-famous collection.
Three floors of historic cars and automobilia
The striking museum building has three floors and over 10,000 m2 of exhibition space. It was designed by the American architects Michael Graves and his associate Gary Lapera. Landscape architect Lodewijk Baljon designed the layout of the park that surrounds the building.