The Lowman Automotive Museum is not as famous as other retro car museums in Europe, but its collection is very, very worth seeing – even if you’re not an obsessive car enthusiast.
The collection, which today consists of more than 240 cars, was started in 1934 by Peter Lowman, the father of the museum’s current owner. The first car in it was a 20-year-old Dodge. In 1969, the collection expanded to include the collection of Gerlig Riemer, founder of the Driebergen Automotive Institute.
In the same year, the museum moved to Leidschendam, to a purpose-built building. Since then it has moved again and in its current format it was inaugurated to the public in 2010 by Queen Beatrix.
The three-story museum building designed by an American architect has more than 10,000 square meters of exhibition space. There’s a landscaped park around, and massive sculptural lions in front of the gates. The main lobby at the entrance to the museum also draws attention to the architecture rather than cars.
Unlike many retro-auto museums that occupy random buildings, the Lowman Museum pays a lot of attention to the building’s exterior and interior décor.
In particular, there are many paintings and drawings on the walls by Frederick Gordon Crosby, an English car illustrator who worked all his life for Autocar magazine in the first half of the 20th century.
The lion sculptures ended up in front of the museum by chance. Jan Lowman, brother of the current owner, Evert, owned the old Wassenaar Zoo, which was closed in 1985.
The museum’s collection consists of exhibits from all over the world, and until 1910 it was the largest in the country. Today Holland is in no way one of the leaders in the automotive industry, but at one time the country produced passenger cars, and these old models can also be seen here. There are, for example, 15 classic Spykers, the only surviving Eysink and the DAF 600 from 1957 which was the first ever with continuously variable transmission.
The oldest models in the collection are, for example, Peugeot from 1895, a marvelous Daimler bus from 1904, an American steam-powered Stanley ET from 1906, a unique Dutch steam locomotive Bickers from 1907, a charming German Hanomag 2/10 1926, British “Humvees,” “Cyclones,” and “Tamplins” of the 1910s-1920s, and even the hilarious 1920 Briggs-Stratton-Flyer “flying bench”. – The cheapest car at the time. You can also see the first Dodges and Packards of the turn of the millennium here.
A collection of World War II and postwar cars includes Winston Churchill’s car and the Aston Martin DB5 that was featured in the Goldfinger Bond series. Other notable exhibits from this period include a 1952 Jaguar XK120, a posh 1938 Lancia Astura for its time, a rare 1939 German Steyr Baby buggy, Colorful cab Desoto-Castom 1946, Mercedes-Nürnburg 500 1938. Later interesting models are, for example, rarity Edsel-Pacer 1958. (cars of this brand were produced only three years) and the German Amphibian Amphicar in 1967.
The exposition includes not only retro cars. For example, here you can see a glittering, streamlined Lincoln Sedan-Delivery and a space capsule-like American Corbin-Sparrow electric car from 2000.
Especially interesting is the exhibition of electric cars, which once lost to gasoline-powered engines, but today are slowly gaining ground. The museum’s electric collection includes a 1923 Hedag, a 1912 Detroit Electric, a 1941 Peugeot VLV, and one of the first hybrid engine carriers, the 1916 Owen Magnetic.
A little bonus for those who are bored with the museum halls: at the end of the exhibition there is a café, very nicely decorated, like the streets of a Dutch city a century ago.
Address: Leidsestraatweg 57
Opening hours: Daily except Mondays from 10:00 to 17:00.
You can get to the museum by bus number 90, 385 or 386, the nearest stop is Waalsdorperlaan, right in front of the museum.
Admission: 16 EUR, children 13 to 18 years old – 8 EUR, children 5 to 12 years old – 6 EUR.
Prices on the page are for April 2019.