The museum building
In 1851 the Association of the Royal Yacht Club, which was chaired by Prince Hendrik, took possession of the elegant mansion on the Willemskade. Association members soon were donating maritime objects, model ships and ethnographic objects to the club, and in 1873 the Prince Hendrik Maritime Museum was established. After the prince's death, the building was turned over to the municipality, which decided in 1883 also to establish an ethnographic museum, much as Leiden and Haarlem had done. Dutch trade relations abroad, growing colonialism, increased missionary activity, and the newly emerging science of ethnology all created demand for such a museum. On 1 May 1885, the Museum voor Land- en Volkenkunde (Museum for Geography and Ethnology)—now known as the Wereldmuseum—opened its doors.
Elie van Rijckevorsel
Rotterdam's Dr. Elie van Rijckevorsel (1845-1928) was a scientist who devoted his life to serving society. He was a member of Prince Hendrik's Royal Yacht Club. His father and grandfather, as administrators, had also played important roles in developing the city of Rotterdam.
As a physicist, Van Rijckevorsel travelled to the far corners of the world. He spent time in the Dutch East Indies—now Indonesia—and in Brazil and South Africa. His focus in physics was the earth's magnetism, but he was also interested in collecting artifacts, both artistic and ethnographic. During his stays abroad he also amassed an ethnological collection.
Elie van Rijckevorsel was an important patron of the Wereldmuseum. He bequeathed more than 900 objects to the museum, including a major collection of Javanese batik, weapons, headdresses, jewellery and shields.
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