Travelling light

 From carpet bag to rolly bag

How to pack the most clothes in the least space has probably been a problem since Noah.  These days, compressing a  wardrobe into a carry on bag is the start of most journeys. Boxing up a few hats and a change of petticoats – or evening suits and smoking jackets- was the problem in our grandmother’s time.

In an exhibition called Welcome Aboard, the Tassenmuseum/ Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam shows us how dramatically luggage has evolved to keep up with our requirements– from carpet bags which served as lap rugs in unheated trains, to gigantic trunks for travel by ship, to our beloved rolly bags.

Among other items in the exhibition, the museum is showing gigantic trunks for travel by coach and ship, as well as luxurious luggage sets from the 1950s and extravagant dressing cases containing silver brushes and crystal vials.  From the 1970s mass tourism created the demand for different suitcases and travel bags; luggage became smaller, lighter and was equipped with wheels.

Luggage has always fit our needs as neatly as a rolly bag fits an airplane’s overhead locker.  The Welcome Aboard exhibition is an intriguing look at how far we and our luggage have journeyed together.




Wardrobe Trunk, Belber Trunk and Bag Company, V.S. (Philadelphia). Imported by Verweegen & Kok, Amsterdam, ca. 1930.
Lightweight suitcase, beauty case and hatbox. Samsonite, V.S., 20th century, 1950s.
Travel bag of wool and beads, with copper frame. Germany (Berlin), mid 19th century.

Welcome Aboard. Suitcases and travel bags from 1850 to the present at the Tassenmuseum

12 March through 31 August 2014

The Tassenmuseum or Museum of Bags and Purses is the largest of its kind in the world. With its collection of over 4,000 handbags, the museum provides a survey of this utilitarian object’s history. Included in the collection are bridal purses, chatelaines, charity bags, reticules, school bags, evening clutches and designer handbags from fashion houses such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès.

The museum is located on the Herengracht 573, between Utrechtsestraat and Thorbeckeplein, directly behind the Rembrandtplein.

Public transport
The museum is easily accessible by public transport. From Amsterdam Central Station take tram 9 (Rembrandtplein stop). Or tram 4 (Rembrandtplein stop), 16, 24 or 25 (Keizersgracht stop, on the Vijzelstraat). Or Metrolines 51, 53 and 54 (Waterlooplein stop).

Open seven days a week from 10 am to 5 pm





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