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Date of Submission: 17/08/2011
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
State, Province or Region:
Province of Noord-Holland
Coordinates: N52 22 49 E4 38 25
Ref.: 5634
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Teylers in Haarlem embodies the great ideals of the Enlightenment. The fortune of Pieter Teyler (1702-1778) was used to found a centre for contemporary art and science. It was conceived as a Mouseion or Musaeum, referring to the great institution in Alexandria, in which scholars and collections were brought together under one roof to pursue knowledge and to create art. It was a revolutionary act to install such a centre for burghers by burghers without any influence of the authorities. The monopoly on information by authorities was thus changed into a democracy of knowledge.

Lectures, demonstrations, scientific research and the creation of art all took place on its premises. Immediately after its foundation Teylers developed close ties with the scientific world in Europe, resulting in a stream of visitors, correspondence and the acquisition of objects for scientific use or for artistic inspiration. Its first acquisition was the Encyclopédie by Diderot and d'Alembert.

The epic centre of the activities was the Oval Room, finished in 1784, which was built behind the house of Pieter Teyler. In the course of time new rooms were added, responding to new needs of the public and the scientists and to the growing collections. Once installed the rooms were never changed. From c. 1920 it was not longer possible to finance the activities of the scientists and the artists and the transition to a museum was completed.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Teylers is an authentic, material legacy of the ideals of the Enlightenment and of the exploration of the world between c. 1780 and c. 1920. Teylers is the only authentic Musaeum of the 18th century in the world. No fires or floods have ever destroyed (parts of) the buildings. Since its foundation it has been housed on the original site in the original architecture, without major changes. The ideals of the founder, as expressed in his will, are still relevant today: encouraging the arts and sciences. It is one of the few places where the arts and the sciences are still united under one roof. The museum is a unique combination of tangible and intangible heritage and an outstanding example of continuity and authenticity.

Criterium i: The oldest public part of the complex, the Oval Room, is one of the finest examples of Neoclassical architecture in the Netherlands. Unusually, the room is lit with daylight from above, so that any visitor would be literally ' illuminated ' from heaven. The objects, once used for research and demonstrations, were stored on the ground floor; the books, with their immaterial content, were placed on the first floor.

Criterion ii: Teylers makes knowledge available to all, in accordance with the lofty ideals of the Enlightenment. It has been open to the public ever since 1784. The collections, library and archives form a unique overview of the main scientific enquiries and discoveries between 1750 and 1850.

Criterion iv: Teylers embodies the ideals of the Enlightenment. Visitors entering the Oval Room travel back in time to that era. While remaining true to its origins, the museum responds to the ever-changing needs of the public and new insights into Enlightenment ideals.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The authenticity of the Teylers is guaranteed beyond question. The interior, function and ownership structure of the museum have remained unchanged since its inception in 1784. The museum's most striking feature is that it remains completely intact; it has never been rebuilt, only had new extensions added.

Comparison with other similar properties

Compared to similar properties Teylers will be a natural addition to the royal and princely initiatives which were instrumental in the bringing about of Kew Gardens and Enlightened Weimar. Monticello and the University of Virginia show the passion for the advancement of knowledge of a learned land owner and politician (Thomas Jefferson). The collective initiative of the Teylers Foundation was based on the initiative of burghers, in a city without a university.

In contrast to the properties mentioned above Teylers Museum is the only property with complete continuity in the following aspects:

  • The building is completely authentic
  • The interior is completely authentic
  • The mission has not changed since its foundation
  • The owner is the original Teylers Foundation
  • The objects used for activities were always kept and stored in the building