The museum is located in Soesterberg which was home to the first (1911) military airfield in The Netherlands. After the departure of the American 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron from ‘Camp New Amsterdam’, Dutch air force used it for some time. The last military flight was in 2008.
After some major renovations and construction, on December 11th, 2014 the Dutch National Military Museum opened it’s doors. The museum hosts the collection of the former Dutch Army Museum in Delft as well as the collection of the Dutch Military Aviation Museum, also formerly located in Soesterberg.
What can be found?
The museum hosts a large number of aircraft, tanks, guns and other weapons, ranging from an F15 to a DC3. Most weapons used by the Dutch military may be found here in this respect the museum offers a perfect overview of the Dutch military. The aircraft can be found inside the main exhibition area as well as outside on the platform, some of them covered by the museum, some in the open, subject to the forces of nature. I guess they must have had a thorough corrosion treatment.
Since it’s recent opening it is an exponent of the modern way to set up a modern museum. It must be said, it’s interactive and child friendly. Call me grumpy, but where are the days, museums are not set up as a theme park? I love(d) studying every detail of a diorama, but this seems to be long gone at least in many museums. (Recently I visited the Battle of the Bulge museum in Luxembourg which is the perfect museum for me, for every inch seems to be used to display each part of it’s collection, trip report will be online soon in the near future).
The museum has some big dio’s (1/1) and they are interesting at times, like the one about the attack on the Dutch airfields in May 1940. Most of the displays are in the main area and the others are in some confined areas which are quite dark. Sometimes the lack of light makes it hard to see details. There is a separate area for kids whit many interactive things, such as flying an aircraft, sword handling and there many other things to do to keep your children happy.
There is one area with historical information presented by a movie in a dome. And this is quite interesting. Some other parts just leave you wondering what the item was all about.
I like to keep several lenses with me in order to benefit from each photo opportunity and to record the collection as well as I can on photo. Therefore I take a small backpack along. It was disappointing this was not allowed in, making it virtually impossible to take my lenses with me. When pointing out this rule the staff could have been a bit more friendly as well. They were not very polite to say the least.
Restaurant & food
The restaurant is aimed a kids mostly, since it offers an impressive collection of Dutch snack such as ‘kroketten’ and ‘tostis’. For a small snack it’s fine, but for a descent lunch you’d better go somewhere else.
Let’s start with the positive. The amount of aircraft and weapons is up to standard (and even large for Dutch standards). The museum is very spacious, with enough room for everybody, also on busy days. For kids there are many things to see and to do.
As you may have noticed I do not consider myself a big fan of ‘theme’ museums. Probably it must be very educational for kids but as an adult I loose interest soon and this museum is no exception. If you plan to visit the museum with kids you’ll have a great time. If you have a great interest in the Dutch military you may also like it. For me the museum just did not do it and for that reason (and completely unfair probably) I rated it 3 stars, though for it’s mediocre service 2 stars would have been fair as well.
But hey just check out the museum yourself and let me know if you agree, ok?