Major exhibition with international masterpieces

on view from 13 October 2023 to 17 March 2024

The Netherlands in the Ottonian world,

The middle of the Middle Ages

The ‘middle of the Middle Ages’, around the year 1000, marks an important transition period in Dutch history. The year 1000 shows the present-day Netherlands in all its 10th and 11th-century diversity, paying attention to the lives of both ordinary and extraordinary people. This exhibition for a wide audience is based on a wealth of archaeological finds, remains of buildings, and artworks from the Netherlands and far beyond.

Archaeological finds and decorative objects

In this exhibition, families and history enthusiasts will discover objects and stories that inspire feelings of both familiarity and wonder. It features archaeological finds from across the Netherlands and neighbouring regions, including weapons, brooches, chess pieces, ship timbers, capitals and gold jewellery. The artefacts are combined with works of decorative art: gilded metalwork, ivory, reliquaries and precious textiles from all over the world that were preserved in treasuries. The display cases also contain spectacular manuscripts from the 10th and 11th centuries, selected for their unique content, language, decoration and/or cover.

A key period

The Dutch story is also part of a larger world; one represented by artefacts from the Byzantine Empire, world maps from different perspectives, and Rome of the year 1000 – with all its Dutch guests. In the 10th and 11th centuries, the landscape of what is today the Netherlands changed radically, the population grew, and castles, churches and palaces were built. Power was held by bishops, who answered to an emperor in Germany and a pope in Rome. Internationally, it was a period that saw the articulation and dissemination of a lot of knowledge, when travellers explored the world from cultural centres on every continent. Reaching the year 1000 was also a real ‘millennium moment’, preceded by fear and trepidation, and sometimes followed by disappointment.

A journey through the year 1000

The exhibition takes the form of a journey. It starts with a Viking horn-turned-reliquary from the Basilica of Our Lady in Maastricht, along with a Persian silk cloth decorated with lions. Playing a starring role in the exhibition are the Egmond Gospels from the Royal Library of the Netherlands, which were researched in recent years for this purpose. The room evoking the atmosphere of a crypt and a royal seat (Pfalz) promises to be very special. The many precious objects will come into their own in this treasury.

A scientific research project on the year 1000 is also linked to this exhibition.

Het jaar 1000 Evangelarium Egmond

Egmond Gospels, pages from c.900 (collection: Royal Library of the Netherlands)

Het jaar 1000 Hanger

Viking armring from Callantsoog, 900-1000 (collection: National Museum of Antiquities)

Het jaar 1000 Mozaiek griffioen

Mosaic showing griffin and tulips from Istanbul, 1000-1100 (collection: National Museum of Antiquities)

Het jaar 1000 Kruis

Pectoral cross of St Servatius, c.1039 (collection: Treasury of St Servatius, Maastricht)