The museum organization
The Amsterdam Pipe Museum, with its collections of pipes and documentation, arose from the notion that in the Netherlands there is no systematic collection policy for the material culture of the tobacco pipe, or opium or anything else for that matter. The craft of pipe making and the tradition of pipe smoking have no interest in the museum either. In fact, in the Dutch museum world, collections have increasingly been cleaned up in recent years by disposing of collection parts or even closing entire museums on this theme. Precisely because there are hardly any museums with a collection policy on smoking, branch-related objects risk to be part of ‘deaccessioning’ as it is euphemistically called, but it simply means ‘to be sold’. The closure and sale of the Douwe Egberts corporate museum in Utrecht in 2003 was a sad highlight in this trend. This was followed by the auction of the Niemeyer Tobacco Museum in Groningen in 2011. Fortunately, the Amsterdam Pipe Museum was able to secure the most beautiful objects from both museum collections.
The base for the Amsterdam Pipe Museum as guardian of the - now endangered - culture of pipe smoking is laid down in founding act of the Pijpenkabinet Foundation. This Trust, founded in 1989, shows in its objectives what the initiator Don Duco had in mind. In the meantime, the legal structure has been renewed and adapted to the requirements of the time, but the intended goal remains the same. The core of the museum is still the collection of pipes and related objects that Duco first collected himself. Over the course of fifty years, much has been added from private and public museum collections, as indicated above. Acquisitions from foreign museums and private collections are described in more detail in the web presentation 'Collectors and their passion'.
The following section describes the meaning of tobacco and the smoking culture in a few sentences; too short to do justice to 2500 years of global tradition, but good to focus on the scope of the collections. This is followed by the more formal objective and mission of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum.
25 Centuries of Smoking Cuture
Tobacco has been smoked in Central and South America since 500 BC. Pipes as a burial gift attest to the cultural and spiritual significance of smoking. For the past 500 years, since Columbus, tobacco has spread around the world, reaching every corner of the five continents. The smoking culture thus spans 2,500 years! Until the relatively recent breakthrough of the cigarette, the pipe with all its accessories was the smoking instrument of choice. The smoking pipe represents an infinite number of cultural traditions that are expressed in material and immaterial terms. We see this materially in the choice of materials, design and decoration. From an immaterial point of view, the diversity in traditions manifests itself in gender and status factors, so typical pipes for men or women, for simple people and for important officials. In this way, we can value the pipe as being a mirror of society.
Smoking has always been so common that it has become part of all facets of daily life and social interaction. Nevertheless, the pipe and the culture of smoking has also led to the most exceptional artistic expressions based on the need for status: the pipe as an art object. Thanks to this great diversity, the smoking pipe gives rise to 'story telling' from many angles: art history and social history, development of technology, commercial spirit and more. Especially at a time when individualization, hedonism and globalization are to a large extent part of society, the presentation of these stories is of added value for the world view of mankind.
With its collection, the Amsterdam Pipe Museum offers all possible examples of this smoking traditions. That is why the museum's motto is: the world-wide culture of smoking. This motto is reflected in the permanent presentation in the museum, but also in research into all aspects of smoking culture. Publications and web presentations reveal this relevant knowledge, for study and pleasure. In essence, this is the aim of the museum and thus also the guideline for the board and employees.
Objectives and Mission
Until the initiatives of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum, museum collections of objects related to smoking and the accompanying information in the form of publications and archive sources were extremely sparse and above all unprofessional. Our museum has set itself the goal of filling this gap in the Collection Netherlands and in the knowledge in this area. Today the collection and research area of the museum encompasses the smoking pipe worldwide without limitation in time. The collection of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum is unique and does not represent a duplication in the Collection Netherlands.
The Amsterdam Pipe Museum aspires to be the international centre in the field of smoking culture and in particular of the tobacco pipe. This centre must be highly visible both to science (including colleagues in the museum world) and to a wider audience. The Foundation has already acquired a central position as guardian of the smoking culture within the Collection Netherlands. It wants to increase this through an active policy in the field of acquisition, research and publication (in printed and electronic form) in the Netherlands and abroad *).
The Amsterdam Pipe Museum has two main goals. The first is to maintain and expand the museum in Amsterdam with the various collections of pipes and related objects, as well as maintain and expand the library and documentation files. The second spearhead is to promote interest in and study of the smoking pipe as a global cultural-historical phenomenon.
*) A recent example of a new type of publication initiated by the Amsterdam Pipe Museum is the website www.pipeportal.eu, on which various museums in Europe show part of their collection in a joint database.