Collectie, Wereldmuseum, rotterdam

Our collection

The collection of the Wereldmuseum - 160 years of assembling

Collected by the people of Rotterdam, for the people of Rotterdam

Rotterdam: World City

It is one of Rotterdam’s iconic buildings: the majestic building by the river Maas originally built for the Royal Yacht Club, that today houses Wereldmuseum. The members of the club’s board, including scientist and globetrotter Elie van Rijckevorsel, used the building to display objects they had collected on their travels. Van Rijckevorsel’s collection largely formed the basis of Wereldmuseum’s collection. The museum opened in the building after the yacht club was disbanded. Today’s collection beautifully reflects 150 years of collecting.

This magnificent collection and the museum itself were reorganised and remodelled in 2019, ensuring that all the facilities are of the highest standard. We also developed a Children’s Museum, and are now fully reopened. The museum’s collection (comprising more than 83,000 items brought together by Rotterdammers since the 19th century) is the main focus of the ‘new’ Wereldmuseum. Contemporary fashion, design, contemporary art and items from popular culture will eventually be added to the collection. 

All the objects in our collection are of course accessible online.


Online collection

The online collection site of the National Museum of World Cultures (Tropenmuseum, Africa Museum and Museum Volkenkunde) and Wereldmuseum features the entire collections of all four museums in the group. Together, these museums are home to almost 450,000 items and 260,000 photographic images that are part of the national or municipal collections, plus around 350,000 documentary images. Only a portion of them are on display at the four museums. The collection site shares as many items as possible that are kept in the museums’ repositories, categorised as objects and photographs, and relating to individuals and institutions, exhibitions, expeditions and subject areas.

Thesaurus of World Cultures

The National Museum of World Cultures (NMVW) and Wereldmuseum Rotterdam (WMR) publish and update the Thesaurus of World Cultures in collaboration with Museon. The Thesaurus, a hierarchical structure of concepts, with synonyms and translations, encompasses five aspects: Function, Culture, Geographical Origin, Object, and Material & Technique, and is regarded as a key tool for making the collection accessible. Visit the Thesaurus page  for more information, and instructions on how to download the thesaurus.