The Spinozahuis museum is open to the public in the afternoon from Tuesday until Sunday: 13.00 -17.00
Visiting address: Spinozalaan 29, Rijnsburg.
Admission: € 3,50, free for kids up to 16 and holders of the Dutch museumcard.
How to get there: The Spinozahuis is easily reached by public transport by boarding bus 37 at Leiden Central Station, destination: Katwijk, stop at Spinozalaan.
Benedictus de Spinoza, now generally regarded as one of the world’s foremost philosophers, was born in Amsterdam in 1632 in an area of town called Vloedenburg (near present Waterlooplein). Although his parental home has not been preserved, two buildings where the philosopher is known to have lived for a number of years have survived, in Rijnsburg and in The Hague. In 1661 Spinoza settled in the village of Rijnsburg, the centre of a large community of Collegiants, a protestant group with baptist convictions. A number of Spinoza’s friends belonged to these circles. In Rijnsburg Spinoza lived in the house of surgeon Herman Hooman as a lodger, renting a small room where he cut lenses for optical instruments and committed his thoughts to paper. An eighteenth-century physician, Johannes Monnikhoff, left a note identifying the house in which Spinoza lived from 1661 to 1663. The house where Spinoza lived, Monnikhoff wrote, had a tablet with a verse by the Remonstrant poet Dirck Rafaelsz. Camphuysen:
Ach! waren alle Menschen wijs,
En wilden daarbij wel!
De Aard waar haar en Paradijs,
Nu isse meest een Hel.
Oh! if only all men were wise
And all of them meant well!
The Earth to them would be Paradise,
But now it’s mostly Hell.
When a modest old dwelling with a hardly legible verse engraved in a tablet on its front wall was put up for sale in Rijnsburg in 1896, Spinoza expert Willem Meijer recalled Monnikhoff’s story, thus managing to designate the dilapidated house as the place where Spinoza had once lived. A Society was founded with the intent to restore the building upon purchase and partly convert it into a small museum permanently devoted to the study of the life and work of the famous philosopher. When an inventory was discovered around the same time that had been drawn up by a notary public shortly after Spinoza’s death in 1677, the possibility to reconstruct Spinoza’s library presented itself. The vellum and leather bindings that have been acquired since that time now make up a collection which is unique in the world. The library is placed in a period room breathing the atmosphere of a painting by Vermeer or De Hoogh. Portraits and facsimiles of letters and other documents are among some of the other items found in this and other rooms of the museum.
Prior to the restoration, the museum consisted of only two rooms, while the rest of the house was occupied by a caretaker. Following the major restoration project, the entire building has now been converted into a museum.