Jans Brands and his collection
In the course of 65 years Jans Brands collected a lot of books and objects and so built up an exceptional collection. As a child, Jans Brands saw the special qualities of everyday things and he saved what other would have thrown away. He bought books and objects that he found interesting at flea markets and managed to acquire unique and valuable objects at auctions. In this way his collection grew in size, theme and value. Jans’s adage was always “Why throw things away, you will never see them again”. And in the farmhouse there was certainly space enough.
After working most of his life as an administrator, Jan went into retirement at the age of 55. From then on, he could often be found at auctions and antique dealerships. His collection grew in value and became so extensive that the farmhouse basically became too small, particularly when he wanted to welcome visitors. After the province recognised the cultural and historic value of the collection, work began on the conversion of the farmhouse in 2010. A wing equipped with a library and visitor facilities was added to the house. Museum Collectie Brands opened its doors for the first time on 17th November 2011.
Museum Collectie Brands evokes a mixture of astonishment and amusement. We show extremely rare things and also strange and amusing things.
The uniqueness of the collection consists in, amongst other things, individual pieces that have a supra-regional value.
Photo showing Jans Brands (in the red jumper) transferring his farmhouse and his valuable collection to the foundation.
Jans Brands was born on 3rd November 1932 in the farmhouse at number 11 on the Herenstreek in Nieuw-Dordrecht, or rather, in the farmhouse that stood there at that time. The house was built in 1850 with bricks from the brickworks across the street. The owner of the house was the Drentsche Veen- en Kanaal Maatschappij based in Dordrecht. It was the intention of this company to dig a canal right across Drenthe. However, workers encountered great height differences and a thick layer of boulder clay, so that part of the canal was never built. In this hard-to-access place peatworkers and farmers were allowed to build a settlement, Herendord (Herenstreek today). That was around 1855. At an angle to Herendord a second settlement, Boerendord (Vatenow today), was built. Together they later formed the village of Nieuw-Dordrecht.
The farm also housed a post office, although Jans’s forefathers were chiefly small farmers like so many people at that time. In 1916 Jans’s grandfather bought the farm from the Ax family, having leased it from 1902 on. Jans was an only child and lived there together with his parents, Gert Brands and Aafje Jantina Brands-Middelveen. His grandparents also lived at the farmhouse.
In the night of the 23rd to 24th August 1943, that is, during the Second World War, the old farmhouse was lost, when an RAF Lancaster crashed in the vicinity of the Herenstreek. The aircraft had been shot down by a German fighter aircraft over the moor areas around Emmen. In desperation the crew ditched the bombs they still had on board. These landed in the vicinity of Emmen, including in Nieuw-Dordrecht. The bomber finally came down on a house on the Herenstreek and wrought great destruction there and elsewhere in the village. The Brands family’s farmhouse was also badly damaged. At that time Jans was 10 years old. A makeshift accommodation was constructed with material from the farm that was still usable. In 1947 a new farmhouse was built.
Today the interior of the farmhouse is still completely intact. That means it looks just as it did at the time when Jans closed the door behind him in 2011. Well, perhaps not quite. To make the house accessible to visitors, volunteer helpers had to carry away stacks of papers and crates with things in them.
On 28th June 2019 Jans Brands died at the respectable age of 86 years old.
Videos: Jans talks about his collection
In the videos Jans Brands gives information about various themes from his collection. Click on a theme and a YouTube video will be opened [Dutch audio].