Just a stone’s throw from Emmen you will find the Museum Collectie Brands. A museum that owes its name to Jans Brands. What began as a private collection in an old farmhouse on the Herenstreek in Nieuw-Dordrecht grew to become an officially recognised museum.

An SBS6 TV report from 1996 about Jans Brands and his collection [Dutch]:

From farmhouse to museum

Jans Brands‘s collection, which forms the core of the museum collection vormt, is unexampled in size and diversity. The collection consists of 70.000 books and objects. Before there was a museum, Jans Brands stored his things in and around his farmhouse at the Herenstreek in Nieuw-Dordrecht. The farmhouse was packed to the roof, room for room. The remarkable thing was, that Jans Brands always managed to find everything amongst all the shelves, stacks of newspapers and boxes, because Jans Brands had a phenomenal memory.

It was Jans Brands’s express wish that his collection should remain intact and be kept in Nieuw-Dordrecht. To this end in 1991 Stichting Nieuw-Dordrecht Historisch en Cultureel Brands (NDHC) was set up. Thus also began the long battle for a museum. While the local community gradually came to appreciate the value of Jans Brands’s collection and the media began to write about it, no museum came of it. Jans Brands was so disheartened that he considered transferring his collection to America and applying for permission to demolish his farm. Thanks to the efforts of a few fanatical supporters, the Province of Drenthe came to hear about Jans Brands’s unique collection. The provincial government initiated an official investigation. In 1999 they presented the results of their investigation of the “Collectie Brands”. It was stated in a report that the collection could be regarded as cultural-historically very valuable and should be preserved for Drenthe.

In 2003 a second foundation, the stichting tot Behoud van de Culturele en Historische Collectie Brands (BCB) was set up. In 2009 Jans Brands officially handed over his collection to the BCB foundation and, after living his whole life long in the farmhouse on the Herenstreek, moved into another dwelling in the village. Under the auspices of the BCB foundation the NDHC foundation assumed responsibility for administration of the collection. Construction of the museum began in 2010. The Brands family’s farmhouse was converted and extended to include a modern annexe to house the library and visitor facilities. At last, after more than twenty years of battling and persistence, on 17th November 2011 the museum was officially opened. In 2015 a further important milestone was reached: the Collectie Brands was entered in Museumregister Nederland. Thus was created from the life’s work of a single special man; Museum Collectie Brands.