Portrait of Alkmaar

Permanent display

Discover the City's DNA

Mention Alkmaar and most Dutch people think of the Victory, cheese or almshouses. But that’s only one side of the story. In 'Portrait of Alkmaar' visitors find out about talented residents and surprising episodes in the city’s history. A modern and interactive presentation about what typifies Alkmaar and what formed it – Alkmaar in a nutshell.

Alkmaar, a town in North Holland situated amidst meadows and dunes, full of history and magnificent old architecture, which achieved its prosperity as a market town with an important regional function. In a thousand years Alkmaar grew from a settlement with ten farmhouses into a proud city of 100,000 residents.

The telling of Alkmaar’s story is based on objects from our own collection and from lenders, replicas, audio and film clips. There are five theme islands in the room with important or typical objects on them. Each theme island is introduced by an important resident of Alkmaar. The impressive walls are arranged like an open warehouse and show countless portraits, townscapes and landscapes from the surrounding area.

Well-Known Alkmaar Residents
When they enter, visitors are welcomed by the town messenger François on the first island. Alkmaar played a role in national politics early on. Around 1644 François worked for the town council and saw to it that important messages arrived in The Hague. Theme island four is about ‘famous Alkmaar'. Alkmaar produced many famous people in the past and still does today. Scientists, writers, artists, musicians and playwrights. Some of them local celebrities, others famous all over the world. From the portrait of the town’s doctor Pieter van Foreest to the gold and platinum discs of the singer Marco Borsato. The theme island also features a unique series of small portraits: twenty-five Dominican priests. Not individually famous but important to the history of Alkmaar. The other three islands tell stories about fighting and resistance, Alkmaar as a trading town and art and culture in Alkmaar.

Eilanden in Portret van Alkmaar
A Mosaic of Stories
'Portrait of Alkmaar' is a mosaic of stories about the city. Many people were involved in compiling and choosing the subjects in the room: experts, city promoters and the general public. Collectively they looked for subjects that were the heart and soul of the city. The guiding principle in this search was ultimately what was typical and illustrative of the city. This search led to the DNA of Alkmaar, brought together in a room for residents and for anyone interested in the city’s rich and interesting culture.

A perfect start for a day out in Alkmaar!

François the Messenger

François worked for Alkmaar town council. He brought messages from The Hague to the Alkmaar delegates. The fact that Alkmaar was represented in The Hague says a lot: the town figured in national politics!

Stadsbode François