of the collection
The building that currently houses the Wereldmuseum served in the 19th century as the gathering place of the Royal Yacht Club of Prince Hendrik. The club's members included merchants and scientists who travelled all over the world to do business or conduct research. They brought back unusual objects which they shared with each other at the Yacht Club. They also held exhibitions of maritime and ethnographic objects. This formed the basis for the Wereldmuseum and its collection. After Prince Hendrik died, the Yacht Club was disbanded and the building became a museum. From its inception, the museum has received major donations from private collectors, from shipping companies, and from the Dutch Missionary Society. In 1939 Rotterdam's Blijdorp Zoological Society made a major contribution to the ethnographic collection.
Through the years the collection has grown. The foundation for the unique collection from New Guinea was laid in 1909 by the Lorentz expedition to the Snow Mountains. In the 1950s and 60s the museum's approach to collecting began to feel the influence of cultural anthropology. Journeys were undertaken specifically to collect materials for exhibitions. In the 1970s, attention turned to development issues in third-world countries. The collection was thus supplemented with objects that people in third-world countries made for their own daily use.
The Wereldmuseum continues to receive important collections. Recently the Bodhimanda Stichting gave the museum a long-term loan of its collection of Buddhist art. This superb and unique collection had never before been shown to the public in its entirety. Its premier showing made the Wereldmuseum a world leader in the field of Buddhist art.