Leiden American Pilgrim Museum
The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum in the Beschuitsteeg, in front of the Hooglandsekerk.
Like stepping into a painting. (photo courtesy Huntley Hedworth)
Museum address: Beschuitsteeg 9, Leiden.
Located in a beautifully preserved house built ca 1365-1370 near the clock tower of the Hooglandskerk, the Leiden American Pilgrim museum tells the stories of the founders of New England, the Pilgrims. Furnishings from Pilgrim times show aspects of daily life, while events involving the Pilgrims themselves are illustrated with a collection of sixteenth and seventeenth-century maps and engravings by such artists as Gerard Mercator, Adrian van de Venne, and Jacques de Gheyn.
During their Leiden exile, contact with Dutch Mennonites and with other groups of refugees, particularly the French-speaking Calvinists called Walloons or Huguenots, expanded the Pilgrims' horizons and led to the development of a uniquely cosmopolitan, relatively tolerant view of the world. Having spent a dozen formative years in The Netherlands, the Pilgrims became the source through which several innovations derived from Dutch legal and social precedent entered New England colonial culture, including civil marriage registration and the celebration of special days of Thanksgiving. The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum presents the reality behind the Pilgrim myth.
The museum is an activity of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum Foundation, a nonprofit cultural institution established in 1997, whose purpose is to educate about the Pilgrims.