Honoring people and events in the Dutch royal family’s history has a long tradition in the Netherlands. In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed up the waterway that would eventually bear his name. The explorer called it “de Maurits Rivier” after the reigning prince of Orange-Nassau. Maurits (r. 1584-1625) was the successor of William the Silent (r. 1579-1584), founder of the Dutch royal house. Members of his dynasty have played an important role in Holland’s affairs of state since before the establishment of New Amsterdam in 1625.
Royal Roots Revisited: Saluting the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau links the present monarchy to the founding sovereigns of the Dutch Republic. The objects on display mark important anniversaries, such as the birth of William the Silent (1533), the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (1813) and milestones in Dutch rulers’ lives. Exhibited works include:
-rare coins and vessels dating from the founding of New Amsterdam to the reign of Queen Beatrix (r. 1980-present);
-a 14-piece silver spoon set from 1933 (the 400th anniversary of William the Silent’s birth); and
-an exquisite plate made for the Netherlands Aid Society that commemorates the birth-in-exile of Princess Margriet in 1942.
The special bond between the Dutch royals and New York is highlighted in archival photographs that document past monarchs’ visits to the Empire State, among them Princess Beatrix’s 1959 trip to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Hudson’s historic voyage. The exhibition coincides with the September 2009 visit to New York of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Crown Princess Maxima for the 400th commemoration of Henry Hudson’s arrival in the New World.
Royal Roots Revisited: Saluting the Dutch House of Orange-Nassau is on view from August 1 through mid-November 2009 at the newly decorated Vander Ende-Onderdonk House, 1820 Flushing Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens, New York (718) 456-1776. Open Saturdays 1:00-5:00 PM and by appointment. Suggested donation is $3.00.
The Onderdonk House is a New York City Landmark, and is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Dutch farmers built the house around 1709. The property remained a farmstead through the 1920s. Commercial business took over until the 1970s. Thereafter, the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society was founded to restore, maintain and operate the structure as a historic site and museum.