Museum Flehite was founded by the Archaeological Association Flehite, the oldest historical association in the province of Utrecht. In 1878, several members headed to the Leusderhei on a mission to excavate prehistoric burial mounds. They discovered ten funerary urns, which were exhibited to the public in the library next to the town hall on the Westsingel from 1880 onwards.
The association expanded its collection with objects from Amersfoort and the surrounding area during the early years. The members eagerly donated historical objects and artworks, or purchased them on behalf of the museum. However, the wellspring of benefactors all but dried up when the economic tide turned in 1920. Museum Flehite became an independent foundation and professionalised its organisation in 1976. Expert staff further expanded the museum's collection and objects were described and managed with greater care. These days, Museum Flehite is part of Amersfoort in C, a cultural alliance that also includes the Mondriaanhuis, Kunsthal KAdE and FASadE Architecture Centre.
Museum Flehite has been organising temporary exhibitions on regional art and history since 1928. The museum has built up a solid reputation and regularly organises highly popular exhibitions. It has regularly exhibited works from private collectors across the Netherlands over the last decade. These artworks really come into their own in the old wall houses' cosy interior.
Flehite Archaeological Society purchased the house on Breestraat 78 as a museum building in 1889. Breestraat 80 and 76 followed in 1958 and 1974, respectively. These three wall houses tell the story of Amersfoort's historical development. The original city wall was demolished above ground following the completion of a second, larger city wall around 1450. Residential buildings and warehouses were built on the remaining foundations around 1550. The wall houses are shallow, having been built on relatively small plots between the old city wall and canal. However, they do look imposing with their long façades and long, high medieval roofs parallel to the street. The three buildings currently housing the museum were built around 1540. This was determined by examining the annual rings of the wood in the roof structures. Breestraat 76 is closest to its original state, with an imposing roof structure and original murals.
In 1898 - ten years after Museum Flehite first opened at 78 Breestraat - the Breestraat wall turned out to be heavily subsided. Amersfoort-based architect Herman Kroes restored the wall and moved the museum entrance to the rear of the building on the Westsingel, installing a small bridge across the water. Two extensions were also built around the same time; their exuberant neo-Renaissance façades recall the glory days of the Golden Age. The buildings also underwent a renovation in the 20th century: Breestraat 76 and 78 were thoroughly renovated in 1974. Drama struck in 2007, when asbestos was found in the floors. Once the exhibits had been cleared of asbestos, the floors could be removed: the old beam layers were the only original feature to be preserved. The next round of renovations offered a unique opportunity: the three buildings could finally be renovated and refurbished on the basis of a single design.
The three city wall houses in which Museum Flehite is located were depicted for the first time on the 1671 large cityscape by Matthias Withoos. Withoos produced the painting for the town hall on the Hof and could never have predicted that it would eventually be displayed in one of the wall houses he depicted.
The historical association for Amersfoort and Eemland was founded in 1878. The association subsequently established Museum Flehite two years later. The Archaeological Association Flehite (OVF) managed the museum until it was incorporated into a separate foundation in 1976. The OVF owns a large portion of the museum collection.
You can become a member for just € 30 a year. Members get to attend monthly lectures free of charge, receive invitations to excursions, four editions of the Kroniek magazine and a yearbook. For more information: www.historisch-amersfoort.nl