Leiden boasts 12 fantastic museums which are all in walking distance of one another. Dinosaur skeletons, masterpieces by Rembrandt and Lievens, Wajang puppets from Indonesia, the medical history of bloodletting and breast prosthetics, an Egyptian temple, treasures from Japan and all there is to know about the relief of Leyden: you will find all this and more in Leiden's museums.
Named after the legendary university instructor Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738) who contributed to making the University of Leiden one of the most famous ones in Europe. The museum is situated in the former St. Caecilia Hospital and the exhibition includes a section on the history of the hospital itself. The collections comprise objects and information from five centuries of natural and medical sciences, focusing on the practice of these sciences in the Netherlands. Some highlights are: Leeuwenhoek's microscopes, the oldest pendulum clock made by Christiaan Huygens as well as the ultra-deepfreeze equipment of Kamerlingh Onnes and the prototype of the electrocardiogram. Visitors can also conduct science experiments themselves or operate models of old instruments. The anatomical museum is quite spectacular with its sensational exhibit of human and animal skeletons.
The Botanical Gardens (Hortus botanicus) have been the study gardens of the University of Leiden since 1590. The Clusius Garden, named after founder Carolus Clusius, is a copy of the first model of the grounds. Four centuries of collecting, care and study have produced a magnificent garden with various exotic, unknown plants. The exceptional gardens and greenhouses, including the Japanese Gardens and the Victorian Greenhouse, are well worth a visit.
Naturalis (National Museum of Natural History) presents a museum filled with nature. Among fossils dating back millions of years are two dinosaurs, a 9-meter long mosasaurus, an ancient horse and a mammoth. Exhibited apes, beasts of prey, butterflies, beetles, fish, birds, plants, minerals and rocks illustrate the amazing variety of nature. In the “'Kijkje Aarde” (A Look at Earth) action exhibition, children learn through games how nature works. A special treasure room contains precious gems and rare animals, the secrets of evolution are revealed and, for those who just can't get enough of nature, there is the Nature Information Centre.
The National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) contains countless treasures from ancient, rich cultures. The famous collection of Egyptian mummies and mummy sarcophagi is of world-class. You can select your choice from five permanent presentations during your visit: "Egyptians", "Greeks", "Romans", "Etruscans", "Near East" and "The Netherlands". The presentations are animated and comprehensible for young and old. The exhibition also includes replicas, reconstructions, film fragments and interactive multimedia. During school holidays, additional children's activities are organised.
The daily life of Mexicans, the philosophy of life of the Japanese, the hunting traditions of the peoples living close to the North Pole - the National Museum of Ethnology (Museum Volkenkunde) takes its visitors to another world. Thanks to a number of collectors, the museum houses world-famous collections of objects from various non-Western cultures.
The most beautiful objects of ancient Japan are now housed behind a 17th century Dutch façade. Seven rooms, each with its own special atmosphere, display thousands of natural, artistic and cultural treasures collected during the 19th century by Bavarian physician Philipp Franz von Siebold. Contemporary Japanese and Dutch design and amazing pieces from collections on loan are displayed in temporary exhibits.
Museum De Lakenhal is the museum for the arts, crafts and history of the city of Leiden. Since 1874, it has been housed in the Laecken-Halle (cloth hall), a 17th century city palace that once was the bustling centre of Leiden’s cloth trade. Highlights of the collection are works of old masters such as Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt van Rijn and Jan Steen, but also works by contemporary artists such as Theo van Doesburg, Jan Wolkers and Erwin Olaf. The museum depicts the history of Leiden as from the relief of Leiden on 3 October 1574. Museum De Lakenhal features a wealth of beautiful period rooms and interior decorations. The original building was constructed in 1641 by architect Arent van ‘s-Gravensande and is one of the finest examples of Dutch Classicism. The museum welcomes a varied audience so as to inspire them and contribute to their personal development.
CORPUS is a 'journey through the human body' during which the visitor can see, feel and hear how the human body works and which roles are played by healthy food, healthy life and plenty of exercise. CORPUS offers a variety of information and provides education and entertainment during this journey, as well as a vast number of permanent and temporary exhibitions. Questions such as "Why do I have to sleep?", "what happens when I sneeze?" and "How does my hair grow?" are answered in CORPUS by means of tangible, visible and audible concepts.
The Leiden American Pilgrim museum tells the stories of the founders of New England, the Pilgrims. Furnishings from Pilgrim times show aspects of daily life, while events involving the Pilgrims themselves are illustrated with a collection of sixteenth and seventeenth-century maps and engravings by such artists as Gerard Mercator, Adrian van de Venne, and Jacques de Gheyn.