Gather round!

Fairs in the 19th century

From time to time, the North Holland Archive makes a discovery that simply must be displayed in an exhibition. One of these was a set of four books by Gaspard Philippe Charles a few years ago. The books encompass a range of prints on the Fair of Haarlem between 1830 and 1875 and are extremely appealing. A selection of the attractions: Admiral Tom Pouce, a man who was only 72 cm tall, a magic lantern and a mechanical elephant.

Breugels work is like a time capsule, it inspired us to design an exhibition which cherishes the atmosphere and the wonder of the fair back in the day. The exhibition sheds light on the social issues at stake at the fair as well: the pro- and opponents, the backgrounds of the families that performed at the fair and their existence as travellers.

The visitor is tempted to come in by original pieces, such a horse that used to belong on a steam carousel (on loan from the Markiezenhof) or Simon Paaps clothes, the smallest man in Haarlem (on loan from Teylers Museum).



Term: 1 July – 10 September 2017
Location: North Holland Archives, Janskerk, Haarlem

Photography: Mike Bink

“Creativity, flexibility and contributing to the exhibition content; the exhibition ‘Gather round!’ was received with much enthusiasm.”
Tessa van den Haak – Senior employee presentation en Provincial Atlas
North Holland Archives
Musée Mécanique

The exhibition had to have at least one thing which the visitor could play with, like at a real fair. We combined the element of play with the clients request to enable to visitor to make a small donation in a fun way. This cabinet forms an donation location, inspired by 19th century coin operated mechanical machines.

Travellers' existence

Fairs travelled through Europe and had to be assembled and disassembled within one day. The modular design of the exhibition references the travelling, 19th century fairs and the tents found there.

Cabinet of curiosities

The visitor keeps on finding new curiosities and discovering new background information wondering through the exhibition. Meet the Bearded Lady, Miss Marie who was born without arms, or Simon Paape, who grew up to be only 72 cm tall and died in an unfortunate accident… during dwarf-tossing.