17 In Europe/ Netherlands/ Rotterdam

Museum Rotterdam ’40-’45 NU

Rotterdam Museum '40-'45 is one of the recommendations of things to do in Rotterdam in Winter

On 14th May 1940 German forces invaded Rotterdam in a bid to take the city over. Situated on each side of the river Maas, they fought the Dutch military defences under demands of Hitler during World War Two. The actual bombings started during the negotiation process between the Dutch and Germans, destorying the heart of the city with a massive air raid. These bombings could of been stopped if the message had been brought over on time. The entire historic city centre was destroyed with up to 900 persons killed and 85,000 people becoming homeless.

Museum Rotterdam

We spotted this museum near the metro during a lunch date in the Coolhaven with family, as we had not heard about it previously.  So a few weeks later we had a free day so my partner decided we would walk there and visit it!

Arriving on a Sunday late morning we were greeted with friendly staff and the latest museum technology we have yet to see anywhere else, an ipad that you get to use throughout the museum to see more information on!

In the museum you follow the timeline of the World War Two events that resulted in bombing of Rotterdam, including personal diary inserts and how the city rationed their resources to survive.

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museum photo 14Further in the museum there is an 8 minute film you must take time to watch, available in English or Dutch. A very touching and impressive film that can be seen on the screens as well as projected on the walls around you. You hear the story of 4 different Rotterdammers with each story based on an object that relates to them. The stories included a wedding dress of a lady who was having a dress fitting the day of the bombing, a baby doll of a girl and also a present from a friend to another of tiny porcelain clogs that were found under the rubble. The way the stories were presented was very touching so I wont tell more as you must see it for yourself!

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museum photo 5Using the ipad you can select which glass cabinet you are using to find more information on the object that has been preserved since the war. We used it for looking up more information on the types of guns that were shown, what the badges and pins specifically were for and more.

museum photo 10With my partner being a Rotterdammer himself, the timeline was familiar but the presentation of the glass cabinets and the focus of the 4 stories in the film made it interesting for him to visit too. Many things he had also not seen so to see it all in one place was compelling. For me it is all still a learning aspect about the history of Rotterdam, to which I felt the museum had explained very well and shown the objects off in a great way to take your time and see them closely with extra information. So we highly recommend it for both tourists and the locals!

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This room was from a private collection from two Rotterdammers who had collected all these badges, pins, stamps and objects during and after the war.

museum photo 9

Your ticket is also valid the same day to enter their other Museum Rotterdam in the city centre that has different expositions – so take advantage and visit them both in one day! We did this to see what the other museum had, which were glad to do as we enjoyed the latest Coolsingel exposition currently on show.

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museum photo 20The history of the Coolsingel is shown with artefacts and stories of how the main street of Rotterdam has changed over time. I loved looking at the black and white photos trying to work out things I recognised or where things had been changed. Take time to watch the film here showing clips and events on the Coolsingel, its pretty impressive how much has happened in such a short amount of time. For those who are curious how the present plans for the Coolsingel for 2021 will be like, here is a good place to see them!

As of January 2018 you can now also take advantage of visiting the museum on the first Saturday of each month, which is completely free! Up to date opening times and more information can be found here.

Read more of our Rotterdam posts! 

Rotterdam Markthal

Rotterdam in Winter

Spring Photoblog of Rotterdam

The Famous Cubic Houses

Rotterdam Museum ’40-’45 NU

Rotterdam Open Monument Day

Rotterdam Rooftop Days

Rotterdam Helicopter Tour

World Harbour Days Festival

Discover the prettiest neighborhood Kralingen

Rotterdam Centraal Station Rooftop Tour

‘De Rotterdam’ Tour – Highest Skyscraper In The Netherlands!


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  • Reply
    Shareen - @pearls_and_paris
    24th January 2018 at 1:53 pm

    I’m a big History buff so this type of museum would be right up my alley. I have never been to Rotterdam but would love to visit in the future.

  • Reply
    SamiM Adventures
    24th January 2018 at 2:41 pm

    I am always fascinated about personal history stories like the wedding dress and the baby doll. Often in America we are giving history in numbers and facts but I find it more compelling to here the experiences. Looks like an incredible museum!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      25th January 2018 at 10:54 am

      Yeah I agree! It’s a combination of the facts and numbers with true stories that really stick with me!

  • Reply
    Frances Fraser-Reid
    24th January 2018 at 3:20 pm

    This looks like a really interesting museum! Really great that you can even get in for free on the first Saturday of the month now!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      25th January 2018 at 10:55 am

      Yeah it’s great!! I will head back to the 2nd location to explore more on the next free Saturday!

  • Reply
    24th January 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Museums about the war can be moving, especially when there are personal stories and/or items exposed. But it’s a great way to remember what happened and to learn History rather than reading a book. Visiting another museum after is a good idea, as long as the topic isn’t as dark as the war to cheer you up a bit 😉

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      25th January 2018 at 10:56 am

      Yes great point! We enjoyed the second location but didn’t see all, but it was definitely more positive in that way.

  • Reply
    Heidi Medina
    24th January 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Learning about history through personal stories is always so much more appealing than just facts and figures. What an interesting museum or museums I should say. I do find war museums a little dark so always schedule sometime lighter for afterward.

  • Reply
    24th January 2018 at 5:19 pm

    what a great little museum to stumble upon! I find places like this incredibly moving and interesting, I had no idea about Rotterdam during the war so thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      25th January 2018 at 10:56 am

      Glad to have shared this with you!

  • Reply
    Rated by Hanna
    25th January 2018 at 4:03 am

    Thanks for sharing all of the details about the museum! Like others I enjoy learning about the specific history. The collection of badges and pins in the private collection are quite impressive.

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      25th January 2018 at 10:57 am

      Yeah that photo doesn’t do the private collection any justice, it was much bigger in the museum!

  • Reply
    25th January 2018 at 5:56 am

    I have been to Amsterdam, but I have never visited Rotterdam. I know that it`s a beautiful city and I hope to go there one day. I love history places and I would like to visit this interesting museum. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      25th January 2018 at 10:57 am

      Thanks for commenting! Definitely pop to Rotterdam next time your close, even just for a day trip its great to explore!

  • Reply
    25th January 2018 at 10:43 am

    Never been to Rotterdam, but if I do go one day, this will be one the things i do 🙂 I enjoy learning about the history in places i visit.

  • Reply
    25th January 2018 at 4:10 pm

    This looks like such a powerful museum, I love finding unique local museums that give you insight not only into their exhibits but also into the local culture of a place. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Zoe | Together In Transit
      25th January 2018 at 5:40 pm

      Thanks for commenting! It sure brought the stories and artefacts to light in a powerful way that you can take it all in and remember.

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