Yup, there’s a museum for IT bags in Amsterdam!

I honestly don’t remember the Hendrikje Museum for Bags and Purses when I was in Amsterdam because I would have made a bee line towards it right after the Rijksmuseum.

Lucky for us, Richard Nahem paid the handbag museum a visit and brought back plenty of photos to share.

What I do remember is a visit up to the Judith Leiber showroom to repair a bag of mine way back when. It was a black circle suede shoulder bag with passimenterie and the grommet that held the strap on broke.  

Ms. Leiber walked by as I was waiting for my turn and paused to look at my bag, “Such a young girl, such an old bag,” she announced in her Hungarian accent and off she went.

It was rather brilliant as far as a fashion moment goes. Take a look at some Judith Leiber bags that Richard snapped below. S.H.


Trip to Amsterdam: Museum of Bags and Purses

I love a hop, skip, and a jump to another country and off to Amsterdam from Paris it was to visit a friend.

In Amsterdam, I was thrilled to see the Vermeer paintings and the Night Watch by Rembrandt at the recently reopened Rijks Museum and delighted in viewing the amazing paintings at the Van Gogh, but the most fun museum in Amsterdam was the Museum of Bags and Purses.

My friend Sandra’s accessory weakness is handbags. She had never been to the museum and asked if I wanted to go. The Hendrikje Museum of Bags and Purses is housed in a stunning former home from 1668 on the Herengracht, one of the most prestigious canals in Amsterdam. Thirty years ago the owner of the museum, Hendrikje Ivo, purchased a small antique tortoiseshell bag inlaid with mother of pearl in England, dating back to 1820 and after that she was hooked, collecting over 3,000 bags. Looking for somewhere to show her extensive collection, Ivo started with a two-room exhibition space a villa and in 2007 bought the 4 story Herengrachthouse.


The collection is in chronological order starting at the top floor. The oldest object was a bronze Flemish clasp from 1420. Some of the earliest purses from the 1600s and 1700s were small and made of velvet or hand embroidered silk and used for coins for gaming. Another type was the Sweetbag, a perfumed luxury packaging for fragrant flowers or money and presented as a New years gift to the King. A silk bridal purse from 1725 has a Limoges portrait on the outside.


On the next floor were the 20th century purses and the history of how the industrial age changed the production of handbags. Another highlight was the Normandie leather clutch given to each passenger on the maiden voyage of the Normandie ocean liner. The novelty showcase was fun including the Judith Lieber cupcake bag covered in Swarovski crystals and the Diet Coke can bag (both pictured above).

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The collection then moved into the iconic “it” bags including the Kelly bag, the Fendi baguette and the Chanel quilted bags but surprisingly there wasn’t a Birkin bag. The last part of the permanent collection had innovative, brightly colored bags by mostly Dutch designers.

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As if that wasn’t enough fun, that evening we went to the Bijlmer Theater near Sandra’s house to see a Marvin Gaye revue. The singer John Oldenstam did some authentic Gaye classics including I Heard it Through the Grapevine and What’s Going On, and when he sang Let’s Get It On, things got a little out of control when he invited a woman from the audience on stage and seduced her with his sexy crooning into unbuttoning his shirt.

Visit in Amsterdam:

Museum of Bags and Purses Herengracht 573 1017 CD Amsterdam

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