Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Museum Cafe Het Koekoeksnest (The Cuckoo Nest)

Museum Cafe Het Koekoeksnest ( The Cuckoo Nest) (English) Museumcafé Het Koekoeksnest ( Nieuwvliet) ( Nederlands) Het Koekoeksnest in Slikopdeweg

Sint-Jansdijk - Nieuwvliet (The Netherlands)
Hans Koert

The contribution for today seems a bit outside the scope of this Keep Swinging blog, but if you read the header of the blog, you’ll agree that this subject Museum Café Het Koekoeksnest ( = The Cuckoo Nest) forms a perfect match with this blog: ……….. and other music projects that surprise me……….. and the Cuckoo Nest did do so!!
In fact I became fascinated by this unique place in the fall of 2008 when I visited the place for the very first time and last weekend I could show the place to some friends. We’re talking about the Museum Café Het Koekoeksnest, which can be translated as The Cuckoo Nest. This place was called Het Koekoeksnest because of the numerous cuckoo clocks that are collected into the old barn, situated between Nieuwvliet, Nieuwvliet-Bad and Cadzand along the Sint Jansdijk in the far south west part of The Netherlands, about 25 kilometers north from the Belgian border ( and about 50 kilometers north from Bruges).

When you visit the barn, where you can have a drink and a light meal, you’ll stare yours eyes out on the design of the interior – the enormous kitschy café organ and numerous instruments along the walls. The café organ, named Het Koekoeksjonk ( = Jonk means Young), plays its music, a mix of popular tunes, circus music, organ- and dance music. so typically for the Belgian (Flemish) cafés in the last century, where giant mechanic organs, known as Mortier-organs, entertained the clientele, with some troll-like dolls dancing on the music.

It remembered me to an album by The Wapiti’s, titled “Je t’ aime encore plus”. (VPRO Eigenwijs EW 9520) which contains “Belgian” music. These Wapiti’s are, in fact, musicians that played in bands like the Beau Hunks, the well known group that rerecorded the Laurel and Hardy sound tracks. The members of the Wapiti’s are: Menno Daams, Leo Van Oostrom, Ton Van Bergeyk, Theo Pieterse, Gert-Jan Blom and Joost Van Son on the accordion.

Along the walls and between the sit downs dozens of instruments that make its music fully automatically: drums, accordions, a church organ, steel drums, a piano, a xylophone and even a banjo.

All these “automatic” are driven by ………. vacuum cleaners and designed and build by Ronald Spiessens from Boerenhol ( a hamlet along the road between Groede and Breskens) who is, for a living, a painter of sceneries and sign boards. He collected hundreds of objects now displayed in his museum café Het Koekoeksnest, which he runs with Ingrid van Hee, who collected the cuckoo-clocks.

The automatic banjo
As fascinated by mechanical instruments he “computerized” a show of varied music styles to entertain the visitors of the museum. And, to be honest, even if you have seen it a dozen times before; it still fascinates. I enjoyed the 1950s jukebox, the 1920s pianola’s with dozens of old piano rolls and the
78rpm gramophones.

Within a few years they hope to open a Museum of Agriculture just behind the museum café, with interiors from West Zeeuws Vlaanderen.

In April 2009 Ronald Spiessens was one of the subjects in the national Dutch TV program Man Bijt Hond, a popular program that shows people with an eccentric passion. Enjoy a fragment of the Uitzendinggemist site.

If you happen to be around, in Ghent, Knokke or Bruges ( in Flanders) or as a tourist in Middelburg, Veere or Flushing ( the Dutch province of Zeeland ( the Netherlands)), try to organize a visit to this little musical spot in the middle of the open landscape in Western Zeeuws Vlaanderen and I’ll guaranty you: you’ll be surprised !

Hans Koert

Sign of the museum, painted by Ronald Spiessens.

Oscar Aleman Choro Music Flexible Records Hit of the Week-Durium Keep Swinging News letter Keep Swinging Contributions

Labels: ,


Blogger Jo said...

Great feature, Hans! Take me there next time we visit your area, ok? I like the concept and the name of this museum - 'The Cuckoo Nest', that's the place I'd like to stay for a while, nuts about the thought. Thanks for the hint, pal!


8:31 AM  
Blogger Carrizo said...

Fantastic photos. Seems to be great place to visit.

5:17 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home