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.
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.
Further 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!
Using 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.
With 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!
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.
The 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.