Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, Leiden

#8 of 12 in Museums in Leiden
The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum is a small museum in the Dutch city of Leiden dedicated to the Pilgrim Fathers (or simply Pilgrims). These Separatists or English Dissenters were religious refugees who had fled England to Amsterdam in 1608 and moved to Leiden the next year. They lived and worked in that city for about 12 to 20 years. In 1620, their emigration began. They left Leiden by canal, going to Delfshaven where they embarked on the "Speedwell," which took them to Southampton. But the "Speedwell" proved leaky and had to be sold, so they transferred to the Mayflower. The "Mayflower" undertook the famous voyage to New England in 1620 alone. In the 19th century the colonists' first harvest festival after their arrival at Plymouth Colony was identified as the origin of the annual Thanksgiving celebration in the United States.The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum is housed in a building dating to about 1365-1370. The house is located at Beschuitsteeg 9, next to the bell tower of the Hooglandse Kerk church. The museum is operated by the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum Foundation and is open to the public Thursday through Saturday (1 to 5 p.m.).The museum presents extensive information about Pilgrim life in Leiden, together with the history of the medieval house itself. In the museum, a collection of furniture, books, and other material from Pilgrim times illuminates the lives of these people in England, Leiden, and New England. The museum illustrates its Pilgrim narrative with a collection of 16th- and 17th-century maps and engravings by Gerard Mercator, Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, and others.
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Leiden American Pilgrim Museum Reviews
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73 reviews
  • As other reviewers have noted, this is not a museum in the traditional sense. In my view, it is much better: it was like stepping into a painting by one of the Dutch Old Masters. The 14th century hous...  more »
  • The museum was officially closed but through a mutual acquaintance, Tessa (the owner) opened the museum to us and gave us a private tour. Wonderful collection of artifacts and anecdotes about the Pilg...  more »
  • My guide was wonderful and allowed me as much time as I wanted to view the home, the many historic items and to take pictures. As a direct descendant of one of the Mayflower Pilgrims, I was delighted!  more »
  • Incredible, intimate, surreal access to centuries old documents and objects- it's as magical as stepping back in time. The marvelous antiques shop next door is also well worth a visit. The owner and the historian are both extremely pleasant and knowledgeable.
  • Small but well worth the symbolic fee of €5, especially considering the expertise of Sarah in our case. The museum only has two rooms but you can actually touch some of the 16th and 17th century artefacts. Sarah will explain about any of those upon request with patience so you’re completely immersed. If you’re in the neighbourhood, make sure to drop by!
  • Fabulous small, private museum run by a local foundation. Definitely worth a visit to see and hear about the history of the house and pilgrims in Leiden. Each visit is different depending upon visitors' interests and questions. I encourage you to ask many questions of Jeremy, the historian/archivist who conducts the 'tours' in the original bottom story of the 14th century house and the one adjoining. The more you question the more wonderful is the visit! I've visited with friends 5 times over the past year in Leiden. Each visit is different - there is no "rote patter" like other places! The foundation has saved the house and is collecting a marvellous array of artefacts and goods used in daily and religious life from the pilgrim era and earlier, even back to Romans with the most fabulous, compete, pot I've ever seen! And these precious articles are available to see and, sometimes, to touch carefully in a small house sitting - not a 'fusty' or sterile museum cabinet. I'm not religious, not American or connected to pilgrim history in any way, but am very interested in preserving history and cultural heritage. The Leiden Pilgrim Museum and efforts by the foundation are a lesson in independent cultural heritage management by citizens and people of goodwill. A highlight of Leiden!
  • I visited at my sister's request to support her ancestry work. The "museum" had little of interest for an American, but is more oriented to explaining the pilgrim's way of life to the Dutch.
  • Didn't open on the days I was there
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