19 april 2024

Like other countries, the Netherlands also has a museum pass called ‘Museumkaart’, or ‘Museumjaarkaart’ as it was known in the past. You pay a fixed reasonable price for a year of free and unlimited (except for special exhibitions) visits to most museums across the country. Even for a tourist staying some time in the Netherlands it is interesting to buy such a card, as a visit to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam will already cost you more than the price of the card.

Such a card was already discussed in 1968, together with Belgium. However, it took until the late 1980s for the idea to be implemented, but then solely in the Netherlands. The first Museum Year Card was made available for ‘free’, because it was published with the Groot Museumboek. Free, yes, but to validate the card, a stamp had to be bought to be affixed to the card. The card was only valid with a stamp. It was an initiative of the Dutch Museum Association and the Ministry of Culture, Recreation and Social Work.

Good start
A total of 167 museums participated in that first year. The stamp which had to be affixed was available from post offices and a number of museums. There were three different stamps, each with their own rate: for young people up to the age of 26, adults from the age of 26 and retirees from the age of 65. It was a success: in the second year, 1982, 200 museums already participated and that grew to 350 museums by 1988.

In 1981 the card was introduced as Nederlandse Museum Vereniging Kaart (Dutch Museum Society Card). That was obviously not a very easy name for the card and from 1982 the card was named Museum Jaarkaart (Museum Year Card). The cards from 1981 and 1982 are known stamped by the post office or the point of sale in a museum.

Even today there are three categories, but a completely different classification. Up to 12 years, 13-18 years and 19 years and older. Strangely, however, the first two cards cost the same.

The current card (which gives access to 400 museums) is not interesting for us as a collector, because it is simply a plastic card and without a stamp. The stamps (three per year) were in use from 1981 to 1988.

Various cards are shown here:

1982: A diligent post office counter official has – incorrectly – placed a postmark. Seal for 26+ age group.
1985: A youth seal, up to 26 years old.
1987: Small, wide format. Seal 26+ age group.
1988: Small, narrow size. Seal 65+ age group.
1982: notice the large white/grey “15.-” in the background. That’s the price of the card for that year. Notice the cancellation stating no date, but we do know where the card was bought: at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
1981: 65+ version of the card. No specific location other than Hilversum is visible in the cancellation, but here we do have an exact date: 14-1-81.
2020: the current plastic card
René Hillesum

René Hillesum

Collector of postal history of Finland and postmarks of Imperial Saint Petersburg.

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