Museum Bronbeek is one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands. It is situated in Arnhem in the east of the country and was founded in a home for former soldiers (Koloniaal Militair Invalidentehuis – Home for the Colonial Military Disabled) on an estate called Bronbeek. The soldiers served in the KNIL (Koninklijk Nederlands-Indische Leger – Royal Dutch East Indies Army) and the home was shaped to the form of the Hotel des Invalides in Paris. The museum was a present by King Willem III (William III) to the country in 1859. He is honoured with a statue at the entrance.
It shows the colonial history of the Netherlands, with a specific focus on the Dutch East Indies (now mainly Indonesia and New Guinea) and the KNIL. Because the museum was created inside the walls of the former soldiers’ quarters, the emphasis of the collection lies with the military aspects of the Dutch presence in the East.
The origins of the collection come from gifts by Dutch citizens. The royal House of Orange and the former Ministry of Colonialism donated other parts of the collection, while the first inhabitants of the residence also left behind some important pieces after their deaths. These were things they brought from the Dutch East Indies to the Netherlands. The varied collection therefore contains military, historical, ethnographical and natural historical objects.
Regardless of the diversity, the weapon collection of Museum Bronbeek is the most renown internationally. The estate was set up in English countryside style around the villa in the 19th century. Since the home was opened in 1863, the villa has been on duty as chief officer’s domicile.
You can find Museum Bronbeek at Velperweg 247 in Arnhem. It is opened daily from 10 to 17, except Mondays.