Have you heard about the Marius van Dokkum Museum in Harderwijk but not exactly sure what it is? Or do you wonder if you should go?
Well then, I’m glad you found this article. A visit to the Marius van Dokkum Museum in Harderwijk might be the highlight of your trip.
The Netherlands is known for iconic world-class museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museu, and The Kröller Müller Museum.
But there is more like the classic Mauritshuis or this undiscovered small museum in Hardewijk: the Marius van Dokkum Museum, something so different from the rest.
The incredibly talented Marius van Dokkum is known for his funny depictions of people and scenes from daily life.
He adds whimsical details and activities to every one of them. And besides giving you the feeling of being happy, you also recognize so much of it from your one life.
I have a confession to make. I’m writing this article in January 2024, and in the past month alone, I’ve visited this museum thrice. Yes, you’ve read that right.
Why would I do that?
The short answer is when you visit, you’ll understand. But my long answer will be this article.
In this article, I’ll share insider tips on what makes this museum unique and a must-see.
I share what I love the most here and some practical visitor information to plan your visit.
Although not widely known outside of the Netherlands, van Dokkum’s funny and vivid art is “viral” among Dutch people.
Yes, viral is the correct word here. I have a shopping bag of one of his artworks; when I use it, it’s a conversation starter wherever I go. (tip: you can get it in the Museum’s shop).
The museum truly is way too small for its popularity among locals. So you want to plan your visit well to make the most out of your visit.
Funny fact: you might have read somewhere that I have bi-weekly museum dates with my mom. Well, if she had it her way, she would always choose this museum.
But although I love it very much, there are limits to how often one can go to the same place. However, as you saw above it takes a while to reach that limit here.
If you’re on the fence, I will say go! It will be a lot of fun.
Let me tell you why.
Table of Contents
Why is it Special
This is the only museum that children enjoy just as much as adults and where you’re allowed to laugh. He has a very relatable sense of humor.
This is an immersive experience. It’s also a working workshop where Marius still likes to come and work occasionally. But it’s not peaceful anymore for him because the museum is always busy now, so you see him less often.
The images are not only mind-blowingly detailed, but they’re also so relatable and tell a story. And they’re almost always funny.
They often have a deeper meaning, too, which you can hear when you take the free audio tour along (the painter himself narrates it).
The museum is housed in a charming building and location that perfectly complements van Dokkum’s art.
Did you know Marius was inspired by his voluntary work in Elderly homes? He would spend time with people there, play games, and he would draw them. Many of his characters depict the elderly in a good and endearing way.
He was also inspired by other artists like Jan Steen and Jan van Heesteren. Somebody, if you’re Dutch, you know. He is the creator of the most unique, funny puzzles.
What To See
This is my top 10. Seriously one of my most difficult lists to make. Because I could easily create a list that was much, much longer. But here they are:
- Turbo – Grandma on an Electric Bike – it’s funny at first. If you have ever biked in Holland, you have seen this. But is there danger? What is the shadow?
- The Last Straw – An antisocial family lives near perfectly neat neighbors. It’s a recipe for disaster. You know the troubles; then, just one can make it all burst. I laughed so hard seeing this the first time. And it’s common in Holland with lots of social housing and being closely together.
- Keeping Up With The Times – Grandparents on a computer – it is hilarious, and we all recognize this image. It’s universal.
- Unrequited Love – This image reminds me so much of my friend. It’s so funny and endearing at the same time.
- Do it Yourselfer – Peeling the Potatoes. Oh my, this painting has to be my absolute favorite. Her face is priceless.
- Museum visitors – normally we look at art on display, but this painting turns the table. Now, the subjects in the painting stare at us, we now are the art.
- Ladies and Gentleman (people at the train station), did you know this is based on Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam?
- Missing Link – Finding the missing puzzle piece. Again, we’ve all been here. The lady holding the lamp, the seriousness of Grandpa and Grandma. Amazing.
- I feel rotten – Pear at the hospital bed. Pears are uncannily like humans. And Marius made an entire series out of them.
- After Corona – there is something light and funny about this painting—masks up in the tree.
You don’t have to worry about missing any of these unique paintings or any of the others. The museum is small, and it’s a one-way route.
If you follow the advice from the staff, it’s hard to go wrong. And you want to go with the flow. It’s too small for two directions.
This is also a fantastic opportunity to connect with local Dutch people. This is their favorite museum.
Everything you see in his works is so relatable, that people (strangers) almost naturally start to talk to each other about what they see.
There are so many references to Dutch culture in them that it enriches your experience if a local can help explain what you see. You’ll understand the painting better and learn about local culture.
Where is the Museum
Harderwijk is not well-known outside of the Netherlands but is a popular local destination.
Its old town is beautifully preserved, with a cozy downtown area with many shops and restaurants.
It was also a former port when Harderwijk was on the coastline of the Zuiderzee, a sea that has now turned into a lake.
It might be weird the museum is here. Marius is not from here. Neither did he work here.
But he had held a temporary exhibition in this city before, and the audience came out in droves. The city wanted to make it permanent. This was good for business. And Marius loved the city back.
So when the opportunity presented itself, everybody involved was on board, and on May 25, 2018, this museum became a reality.
Unlike its more famous counterparts, this museum offers a whimsical and heartwarming experience that resonates with locals and is an absolute delight for international visitors.
From the first time I stepped into this museum, I was captivated. It’s just so much fun and unexpected. Like this painting below, that reminds me of a friend. I can see their marriage exactly being like this when they’re retired 💁♂️.
Marius van Dokkum Shop
Some people love museum gift shops. Others don’t know how quickly to exit without even looking at them.
Well, I can promise you one thing. I still have to meet the first person who doesn’t love this small gift shop.
A lot is on sale for such a small space; all the images and things you want to have are contagiously funny.
Greeting cards and More
You can buy most of his work as greeting cards. Posters, art circles, reusable shopping bags, calendars, puzzles, unique Christmas Card sets and fridge magnets are just a few things on offer.
But it isn’t really what you get, it’s the images that make you happy.
I highly recommend his art book: “A Portrait of Marius van Dokkum.” It’s a significant stress releaser and the book I pick up most often. To flicker through some pages, and inevitably, it will put a smile on my face.
Another favorite is his children’s books with his beautifully done illustrations.
Giclées and Art Circles
If you want something special, you can purchase one of his limited edition reproductions on giclées.
Not all of them are in stock (some are delivered to people’s homes, which can be difficult if you live far away.) The museum staff can always advise on what they have and do not have and offer you alternatives when needed.
Birthday Calendar for Birthday Reminders
A very Dutch souvenir would be to buy a birthday calendar. It’s like a regular calendar but then without a year on it. Meaning you can reuse it every year.
It’s not meant to keep your appointments; you write down people’s birthdays. The Dutch will hang it in the house’s smallest room, so they’ll always have birthday reminders.
Opening Hours & Tickets
The Marius van Dokkum Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm.
You can easily purchase tickets at the entrance. Tickets cost around €10 per person. Credit Cards are accepted. You currently can not buy tickets online.
How to Get There
Harderwijk is accessible by train from major Dutch cities. From Amsterdam, you need to transfer once to Amersfoort.
Booking Train Tickets at the Official NS Website
The museum is a 20-minute walk from the train station. It is not that close and not the most scenic route to walk. But undoubtedly doable and safe.
If you opt for the train and travel in off-peak hours (weekends all day and weekdays all day except for 6:30 am till 9 am and 4 pm to 6:30 pm), you can get a 20% discount when booking your train tickets at least four days in advance online. You can print or add your train tickets to the Dutch Railways app.
Once in Harderwijk, I advise you to park at Parking Garage Houtwal. Address for your GPS: Vitringasingel 71, 3841 EW Harderwijk. Google Maps works great for that (make sure to have an active internet connection on your phone while using navigation.
The Lowest Priced And Most Flexible eSIM cards (incl. tethering)
What’s great about this parking garage is that it is not only conveniently close to the museum. It’s also spacious and has many parking spots.
The first 2 hours are free; after that, it’s only about €2 an hour. The payment machines will take credit cards. Elevators are available.
A great thing about having a car is your flexibility for the day.
Giethoorn is within reach. The stunning palace Het Loo, or the famous art museum in the National Park Hoge Veluwe called The Kröller Müller Museum, is also in the corner of the country.
Making it easy to combine them on a day trip from Amsterdam. You would not be able to do that on public transportation.
About Marius van Dokkum Artist
Marius van Dokkum’s paintings often blend subtle social commentary with humor. Most people see the humor first (or only the humor) until they hear the commentary behind the works with the audio tour. It’s that subtle.
From his childhood, van Dokkum was drawn to art. That he became an artist was a path that surprised no one in his family due to his constant drawing.
His parents encouraged him to go to art school to pursue his dreams.
Despite the art school’s push for modernism, van Dokkum stayed true to his love for realism.
He honed his skills further through interactions with contemporaries like Henk Helmantel, who demonstrated that realism was far from obsolete.
Did you know Van Dokkum took a part-time job at a paper factory in Ugchelen? For financial security. Even though today he can live off his art because he is that popular, he continues to keep his job.
Besides work, Marius loves to volunteer. You can often find him in elderly homes, which is a huge inspiration for him, and you can see that in his works.
Van Dokkum’s inspirations range from Henk Helmantel and Maarten ‘t Hart to old masters such as Rembrandt and Diego Velazquez.
His painting “Ladies and Gentleman” directly tributes to Rembrandt’s Night Watch.
The Marius van Dokkum Museum is quite an experience. It’s a place where art is approachable, fun, and deeply human. I just needed to share this hidden gem in the Netherlands with you.
This could be what you’ll be talking about when you return home.
And once you’re done exploring the museum, Harderwijk has much to offer. From its picturesque streets to its historical significance and lovely waterfront, the city is a beautiful addition to your cultural journey in the Netherlands.
Tip: Brownies & downieS (the S is not a typo). It is an excellent lunch or coffee break stop, less than a 5-minute walk from the museum.
Enjoy your visit to this delightful museum, and let Marius van Dokkum’s art add some joy and laughter to your vacation!
Find A Place To Stay In Harderwijk
Update your (intended) travel dates for accurate prices. TIP: Zoom out on the map (-) in the bottom right corner. This will show more options and availability.