Taking the Good Book as a starting point, you move on to explore biblical history and geography in objects, images, and installations. The setting -- twin patrician canal houses from 1662, designed by noted architect Philips Vingboons for timber merchant Jacob Cromhout -- is well worth visiting for historical interest and for the rare opportunity to tour a 17th-century canal house (though most of its decor dates from later periods). There are elegant stucco reliefs, and a dizzying elliptical grand staircase. Two ground-floor rooms have magnificent (and neck-stressing) painted ceilings depicting the four seasons, ancient mythological scenes, Greco-Roman gods, and the zodiac signs -- all painted by Jacob de Wit in 1718 and 1750. There are fine views of the lovely courtyard garden from some upper-floor windows; stroll through the garden to see a pond and sculptures.
The museum collection includes a superb set of dioramas resenting historical and religious scenes. One from the mid-1800s, made from wood, fabric, and gold leaf, depicts the Tabernacle -- a desert tent containing the Ark of the Covenant (which holds the Ten Commandments). A model from 1725 is of the Temple of Solomon; another from 1879 evokes the Temple Mount/Haram-al-Sharîf in Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock. There's one showing how Jerusalem looked in the 1st century A.D., and another that's a Temple of Herod. Replica archaeological finds from Israel, Palestine, and Egypt also feature Jerusalem prominently, as do paintings of biblical scenes. Among the Bibles on display are the first Bible printed in the Low Countries, dating from 1477, and the first edition of the authorized Dutch translation, from 1637.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Recommended 2009