Many people in the Netherlands think of beautifully designed glass when they hear the name Leerdam. The Old Dutch town of Leerdam is a city and a brand name at the same time. That brand name has its origins at the beginning of the 20th century when P.M. Cochius took office as the new director of the Leerdam glass factory. Driven by idealism, Cochius wanted to bring affordable and well-designed glassware to the market, rather than the characterless pieces that had flooded the market until then. In 1915 he invited architect K.P.C. de Bazel to design artistic glassware. He was followed by a long line of renowned artists who changed the appearance of glass for use.
As the only museum in the Netherlands specializing in glass, the National Glass Museum occupies a unique position. The museum manages an extensive and versatile collection of glass and crystal arts and crafts, on the basis of which the museum is able to provide a representative picture of Dutch glass from around 1880 to the present.
The collection of the National Glass Museum Leerdam centers around the products of the Leerdam Glass Factory from the period 1878-present. In the period 1915-1930, progressive designs were made at the factory architects, designers and best known of them all: designer A.D. Copier. In 1940, a vocational training course for glassblowers, grinders and designers was established at the factory. This training resulted in a whole generation of designers such as Meydam, Heesen, Valkema, Thomassen and Van der Marel, who determined the looks of the design of Dutch glassware from the fifties.
In the field of modern Dutch glass, the National Glass Museum owns a representative collection of contemporary studio glass, representing the pioneers of free glass from the 1960s and 1970s up to generations that have largely graduated from the specialized training at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.
Houtloods ‘Holland’, in the center of Leerdam, is the only remaining building of a once successful Leerdam timber mill. The glassworks of the National Glass Museum are now located in the last remaining old wooden productionhall , where you can take a seat in the stands at any time of the day to follow the glassblowers’ actions. Fire, dexterity, sheer brawn and years of experience are needed to shape the hot, viscous substance. You can see how glassblowers make the most diverse art, decoration and design objects from hot liquid glass.
The glassmakers or volunteers of the museum will explain what happens on the floor and that is something different every day: large or small, in series or unique, according to their own inspiration or at the request of artists and designers.
Just a moment of peace? Lunchcafé ‘de Houtloods’ has a diverse menu with soups, sandwiches, cakes, snacks, starters, main courses and desserts, all freshly made and with plenty of room for local products.