24 - Arts and culture: art works, monuments, amateur art, museums, theatres and barn parties.

After the Second World War, the Netherlands was a country of austerity. During these years of recovery, the most important principle was 'working hard'. There was initially little attention for the 'luxury' of self-development in arts and culture.


The first public artworks were given to the Noordoostpolder in 1952: four stone lions. These artworks originally came from the so-called Syphon in Zeeburg (part of Amsterdam). The four lions were presented to the Board of the Zuiderzee Works (Noordoostpolderwerken) by the city of Amsterdam. The board, in turn, gave the lions to the Public Body Noordoostpolder in 1952, when the Noordoostpolder marked its 10-year anniversary. The purpose of the gift was to make them a permanent monument in remembrance of a period of hard work and as a symbol for the future. The lions were placed on De Deel, on a base made of Bentheimer sandstone, found in the Noordoostpolder inside a 17th century shipwreck. Two of the lions are now standing in Kraggenburg, the other two can be found in the Meldestraat in Emmeloord. The lions were sculpted by Bart van Hove, and they originally stood at the large lock in the Merwede Canal near Zeeburg.

The monument of the four lion statues on De Deel, Emmeloord, 1953.

The next public artwork, in 1953, was 'De Drie Muzen' (The Three Muses) by the artist Jan Bons, which was placed on the new building of theatre 't Voorhuys. The acquisition was made possible thanks to the so-called national 'one percent scheme'.

The Three Muses, by Jan Bons, 1953 (see also frame 20).

Farewell reception of Mr A.D. van Eck, head of the building department Rijksdienst IJsselmeerpolders.  1-12-1964.

During the following years the 'one percent scheme' was used to create artworks that were often stained glass windows in churches or reliefs on school buildings and other public buildings.

In 1964 the Stichting A.D. van Eckfonds (A.D. van Eck Foundation) was founded. Its purpose was to contribute to the enhancement and embellishment of the visual appeal of the Noordoostpolder.

With the launch of this foundation, the municipality wanted to show its appreciation for everything Mr A.D. van Eck, at the time head of the building department of the Rijksdienst IJsselmeerpolders (Civil Service IJsselmeerpolders), had achieved in the Noordoostpolder in this field.

The A.D. van Eck Foundation acquired 82 artworks; the collection was transferred to the Noordoostpolder municipality in 2012. The total amount of artworks is even larger due to private donations, purchases by (village) societies or acquired through the 'one percent scheme'.

  Monument Noordoostpolder ('Ketelhuisje'), by Frans Bolink and Gerard Koopman, brick and aluminium, 1994.    

In 1994 the first public symbolic artwork for the Noordoostpolder was placed. The Monument Noordoostpolder at the Ketel Bridge, also called the Ketelhuisje (Boiler House), has been designed by the artist duo Koopman & Bolink. The second artwork, Boothuis (Boat House), was placed in 2010 near Lemmer. When the Ramspol Bridge was finished, the third and last symbolic artwork, Polderhuisje (Polder House), was placed. Now there is a 'house' at every main entrance (along the motorway) of the Noordoostpolder. It's the municipality would like to add another artwork at the entrance to the Noordoostpolder near Vollenhove.

Listed buildings

There are more than fifty listed buildings in the Noordoostpolder, registered in the Monumentenregister van de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. Most of these buildings date from the time the land in the Noordoostpolder was being reclaimed.

Lighthouse keeper's house on the north end of Schokland.

Some national listed buildings date from the nineteenth century. On Schokland you can find an old lighthouse keeper's house, a small building that housed the foghorn, a wooden iceboat shed and an historic church dating back to 1834 (see also frame 5). On the most southern tip of the polder there is the lighthouse keeper's house of Oud-Kraggenburg (see also frame 6)

.  Built around the 1850s as a shed to house the locally used iceboat (national arsenal) on the former island of Schokland. The movable wooden shed was built to house the so-called iceboat. This was a special type of boat with gliders, so it could be pulled across the ice like a sleigh. The iceboat was mainly used to transport goods from the mainland to Schokland whenever the Zuiderzee had frozen, but it was also used to transport people who needed medical help. These days the shed is used as a storage space for the Schokland Museum on the former dwelling mound Middelbuurt, where the shed was located originally.

There are about ten other locations in the polder that have been granted protective status because of their archaeological value. For example the remains and foundations of a medieval church on Schokland, which are visible in the landscape. 

Schokland Museum, 1954. View of part of the left wall of the museum. From right to left: Mr Amorides (Spain); Dr P. Glazema, Director of the Rijksdienst Oudheidkundig Bodemonderzoek (now part of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands); Mr Antonidis (Greece); Mr G.D. v.d. Heide.


After the polder had been drained, a true archaeological paradise came to the surface. There were thousands of finds. Not only (pre)historic stoneware and tools were found, the polder bed even yielded complete shipwrecks (see also frame 1). During the first years, the archaeological treasures were stored in Kampen, but soon the idea of having a dedicated museum in the Noordoostpolder took form. The chosen location was the historic church on the former island of Schokland. The new archaeological museum opened its doors here in 1947. The current wooden museum buildings were built in 1980. In 1987, the national government transferred the management of Museum Schokland  to the Noordoostpolder municipality for the symbolic price of one guilder. When the island of Schokland was added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, the museum was given even more appeal. The vereniging Vrienden van Schokland (Friends of Schokland Association), established in 1961, supports the museum, but now also includes its interests in the history of the entire Noordoostpolder.

Aerial photo of the Schokland Museum on the dwelling mount Middelbuurt, Schokland, 2010. 

Museum Nagele is the second museum in the Noordoostpolder. It was opened in 1998 after the initiative was taken by the local people of Nagele. The Nagele Museum is run by an independent foundation in which more than eighty local volunteers are actively involved. The permanent collection shows the creation and special architecture of this modernistic model village for the Noordoostpolder (see also frame 15).

Museum Nagele.

Amateur art

After the first workers had settled in the Noordoostpolder, they soon wanted to express themselves creatively as well through all kinds of (amateur) art forms, privately or in clubs or societies. Soon there were drama, music and singing societies set up in the villages. The role of the local authorities was a facilitating one. They only provided theatre buildings and village halls.

How the cultural activities were organised, was left to the local communities.

Opera and operetta society LaMascotte has made around thirty productions since its foundation in 1980. "De Ontruiming van Schokland" (The Eviction of the People of Schokland) is one of them. 

Over the years, the attitude of the authorities changed; consecutive municipal boards started to realise that cultural activities are an important part of communities. In 1962 the establishment of a music school was initiated in Emmeloord. A few years later, pottery and weaving courses were added to what was on offer. The 'School for musical and cultural education' was very popular, and in 1973 the municipality decided to build a new building to house the school. The Muzisch Centrum was opened in 1975; one of the first schools of its kind in the Netherlands that offered an integrated package in artistic education. 

Young ballet dancers from the Muzisch Centrum around the new sculpture of the 'ballet dancer'.

This set off the collaboration with the amateur societies: drama and music. The school also opened annexes in other villages so participation in lessons and local societies could increase.


After the war, the need to have a communal centre soon rose in Emmeloord. The civil service provided a wooden building: the 'Bondscafé-restaurant De Beurs'. The name was chosen well as the agricultural auction was held here each Thursday morning. This was the start of cultural life. In a hall that could house 700 people, cabaret, drama, talks and dance evenings were organised. It also served as a cinema.

Opening of theatre 't Voorhuys; Mr S. Smeding strikes the gong, 1953.

Hotel-café-restaurant 't Voorhuys, Emmeloord..
On 1 May 1953 the foundation stone was laid of hotel-café-restaurant and theatre theater 't Voorhuys (see also frame 20). Unfortunately the exploitation of the theatre remained a challenge, and in the 1980s the financial problems increased to such a worrying level (also because of the state of the outdated building) that the theatre programming was minimal.

Film: Tulip song by primary school De Triangel in theatre 't Voorhuys.

The renovated building was opened in September 1995.

The exploitation of the catering part of the business came into the hands of a new entrepreneur, and the theatre activities into the hands of Stichting Theater 't Voorhuys (the theatre foundation). The theatre's cinema was taken over by an external operator in 2010, and attracts around 65,000 visitors each year.

Barn parties

Young people have always wanted to find their own way. Looking for alternative and exciting forms of entertainment in the new polder landscape, the so-called 'barn parties' popped up in the 1970s. With the idea of having a large space, beer and soft drinks, music and a small entrance fee with open bar, the party would soon be a success. However, these barn parties quickly became recurring yearly events, sometimes with performances of a number of different bands. Visitor numbers of 1,200 were not exceptional, and with regard to catering, safety and tax regulations, the barn party organisers often operated through loopholes in the law. The established professional catering sector began a political and legal counter-offensive. The local authorities supported them as they were worried about the safety of these 'wild' parties. 

Barn party ‘Big Borre’ l 2006.

Nowadays, barn parties are only allowed in 'private clubs', and a professional caterer who has the required licenses has to be involved. The parties that are now organised outside the towns and villages are more professional and safer. With a frequency of just a few dozens barn parties each year, these yearly events are much less common, but when they happen, they still attract thousands of young 'polder people'.