Growing up along the Belgian coast, I remember Winter beach walks and finding all sorts of stuff washed ashore. From ropes to driftwood, large barrels to plastic bottles. I didn’t know there are people who actually have a full time hobby collecting these items: beach combers. In Dutch they are called ‘strandjutters’ or ‘jutters’, hence the name of the museum on Texel: Juttersmuseum. It is said to be the largest collection of material collected through beach combing (jutten), with items found on the beaches of Texel over 75 years. Several beach combers donated their individual collection to the museum.
If you think the only thing you would find at the Juttersmuseum are plastic bottles or boat ropes, think again. Just about everything has been found on the beaches of Texel: from TV’s to shoes, from helmets to bicycles, cars, inflatable dolls, bottles, children’s toys and even drugs. You name, it’s there. The barracks are literally packed from floor to ceiling and even the sheds themselves are (mainly) made from material found on the beaches. Some of the stuff is ‘accidentally’ lost into the ocean (washed overboard from boats or piers during storms, or from whipwrecks), other stuff is deliberately thrown into the ocean, as an easy (and illegal) way to get rid of it.
In one of the sheds, a video is shown with founder Jan Uitgeest explaining the history of the museum and the story behind some of the items. Before containers, international shipping of materials used a lot of wood, to safely stack the items. So in the old days, beach combers were mainly interested in the driftwood found on the beaches, which they could sell (or use themselves) as timber or firewood. With the invention of container-shipping, the amount of driftwood diminished, but modern times also brought other items to the beaches, which via the beach combers found their way to the illegal market (from cans with milkpowder to cartons with sigarettes). Some of the larger and heavier items in the museum (ankers, boat motors, …) are brought to the surface by fishermen’s nets, and donated to the museum.
A very interesting place. But also a sad place. It really puts your nose right on the huge amount of human pollution. And what is washed a shore is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak, with millions and millions of items that still drift in the sea or rest on the bottom of the ocean.
On another note, we were also saddened to see aquariums (with live fish) in the museum. Don’t know if these are also part of the collection, or just put there to ‘decorate’ the place. Pity for the fish though.
Otherwise, very much recommended! It would be topped if vegans could also get something to eat in their snackbar (hint, hint 😉 ).
Entrance is 5€ pp.
Here are some more photos: