Imagine strolling down the streets of the historic port town of Medemblik. While admiring the gorgeous old facades, suddenly your senses run rampant. You become intoxicated by the smell of warm, freshly baked rolls and other treats. Your nose automatically takes you to the ‘Bakery Museum De Oude Bakkerij’. As soon as you open the door, you travel back in time by sixty years. You find yourself in a real old-fashioned candy store and take a surprised look around. Delicious bonbons and candies in all colours of the rainbow are on display at the counter. You haven’t seen anything like this for ages.
The sight of this many treats is mouthwatering. As you walk on, you move deeper and deeper into the history of the baker’s life. “Hands on your back or you'll get a smack!”, laughs Theo Spil. You need to be a bit firm around here, since 40% of visitors consists of children.
Theo and Ans Spil founded the Bakkersmuseum in 1985 in a small dwelling. Ans’ father had left her a large collection of bakery paraphernalia. Four years later they moved to a larger building. Located in the Nieuwstraat, it used to house a bakery in the nineteenth century. The story goes that a fire broke out and the baker's wife ran out in a panic, jumped in the canal and drowned. In the twenty-first century, that very building houses the old and largest Bakery museum in the Netherlands.
Theo and the young visitors of the museum bake cookies while he talks about the past. And as the icing on the cake, the children get to decorate their self-made cookies with marzipan. The scent of fresh dough takes you back. Back to the days your mother used to bake delicious apple pie while you secretly nibbled at the dough. “Want to taste the dough?”, asks Theo. Of course, you won’t pass on that opportunity. With the delicious flavour of the dough still in your mouth, you continue to explore this fascinating museum.
You are amazed by the large collection of art on display on the walls. Every object is related to the baker and his craft.
The stories behind the bakery paraphernalia in the museum are highlighted one by one, telling you exactly what each piece was for. The museum also organises workshops. From cacao painting and drawing sugar to baking your own bread. The enthusiastic responses are what drives the Spil family and its eighty-five volunteers.
Theo and Ans’ son, Jacco, has worked at the Bakkerijmuseum since a young age and feels right at home here. When he was thirteen years old and his sisters were helping around the store in traditional clothing, he was a little bit embarrassed. But luckily he was allowed to wear his own clothes at the shop.
Jacco graduated at the art academy and is a self-taught cacao-painter. Jacco's grandfather also used to make cacao paintings. A remarkable addition to the museum. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Jacco enjoys making cacao paintings from existing photos.
He likes a little bit of drama. Not just a superficial picture, but a picture with a story. He views emotions as a good motivation for creativity.
The paintings need to maintained though, since cacao paintings tend to deteriorate. At some point they need to be discarded. Cacao crystallises which creates a white rash. Jacco: “When I'm gone, this will be gone too. I will bring it with me to the grave.”
Satisfied, you say goodbye to the Bakkerijmuseum. You step out the door, back into the present.
On to the next remarkable location in beautiful West-Friesland.