In 1624, David Beck, a schoolmaster from The Hague, kept a diary titled A Mirror of my Life, in which he recorded everything that happened—from the mourning process to new romances and juicy gossip about the House of Orange at court. This unique seventeenth-century document had been brought to life in the Pavilion through the experiences of Odilia, Beck’s sister.
In the spring of 2015 the museum showed 150 objects from its collection of pre-industrial artefacts that play a role in David Beck’s diary. The presentation in the museum restaurant was in two parts. Three tables with jugs of beer, glasses and plates are laid for breakfast, the midday meal and dinner. Showcases contained combs, shoes and other objects that gave us an idea of an ordinary day in the seventeenth century.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is the only Dutch museum to have a collection of implements and utensils dating back to the late Middle Ages. This extensive, unique collection allows us to show objects that formed part of Odilia Beck’s daily life. We know which objects were used because David Beck not only jotted down sonnets and experiences, but accurately recorded the weather and the menu of the day. Odilia went to live with the family to look after the children when David Beck lost his wife.
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s collection makes it possible to bring history to life in a surprising way, for example by way of the website alma.boijmans.nl, which links pre-industrial artefacts to paintings and prints to show how the objects were originally used. A Day in the Life of Odilia Beck’ likewise sheds new light on seventeenth-century implements.