The Netherlands Waterline Museum
The Waterline Museum offers a discount for Museumkaart holders (2.50 Euros off adult admission) and there is a parking fee (3 Euros). Exploring Fort Vechten is free. You can arrange for a guided tour of the fort, but it must be done in advance. There is a special kids tour on Sundays, so plan ahead.
The museum is all on one level, so it would be stroller friendly, although we opted for the carrier. Exploring the fort requires lots of small sets of stairs, so it is not stroller friendly. This is an easy outing, so it was perfect for getting our feet wet on being out with all three littles.
Fort Vechten was part of the Netherlands waterline defense system, so entrance into the fort is over a bridge which also cuts through the fort wall. The kids, of course, thought this was amazing. They love a good bridge.
The museum is lovely and well worth the price. It is small but nearly every exhibit is interactive. When you arrive everyone gets a bracelet which adjusts all the exhibits to your language of choice so the characters and telephones in the museum literally talk to you in whatever language you desire. There are also plenty of staff on hand at the museum. They were all willing to help us understand and use the exhibits.
The phones around the museum ring when you walk past them. You pick one up, scan your bracelet and get lots of information. The four year old actually listened to most of the narration. The two year old just loved answering the phone.
The hallmark of the museum is the working model of the waterline defense system in the center of the museum. Here you can see how the Netherlands used the resource they had, water, to create a line that separated the large trade cities from advancing land invasions. The boys ran around and opened and closed the gates, watching the land flood and drain. One of the problems with the system is the time it takes to complete the flooding – we could have spent two hours just at this exhibit.
Hands down our favorite activity was the game board. Although we have visited several of the other forts in the waterline defense, this game board finally made it clear to me how the system worked. In the game you are in charge of where to build the forts, when to flood the waterline and where to station your soldiers as an enemy army advances. There are two game boards. H and I were a team and it took us three tries to fully understand the system and win the game. Jeff played with O who kept flooding the line such that the advancing army boarded boats.
The boys also loved the room where scanning your bracelet brought statues to life. Each statue talked about life working on the waterline and asked the boys to help them by completing an activity. Our favorite explained how the waterline would freeze in the winter, so soldiers had to go out with saws to break up the ice. The boys took turns helping with the saw and running to warm up on their imaginary fire.
The boys sat through two rounds of the overview movie, we suspect because there were pictures of horses swimming through the waterline, which they thought was hysterical.
The final room in the museum is a virtual reality experience that takes you on a virtual aerial tour of the waterline. We all took a turn. H was really confused about what was happening but laughed and loved it. O also enjoyed the ride, and didn’t seem at all concerned that he was floating through the air.
I really enjoyed the experience and it’s a great way to see where the waterline sat and which forts are still there.
Jeff packed a lovely picnic and we hiked up on the fort wall to have our lunch. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed a beautiful fall view while we ate.
Then we did what the boys love most, explored the fort. There were so many things to jump on and explore. We didn’t even make it over to the recreated Roman tower!
You could easily spend your day here! Do pack your lunch, as the small cafe in the museum appeared to have only coffee and cake. There are plenty of tables and benches for picnics, or bring a blanket and just find the perfect spot to sit.
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