Exhibition A family Affair | Museum of Bags Amsterdam

It's a Family Affair

On display until April 2020
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DAILY 10:00 - 17:00

A free composition of tantalizing 20th and 21st century bags exhibited not in chronological order but in relationship to their stylistic appearance and their soulmates in design.

More than 130 truly remarkable objects are presented here as an extended family with each of them telling its unique story and displaying its very own character.

All objects in this presentation reveal an interrelationship, reflect on each other, and are intertwined in one way or another. The exhibit flows visually and conceptually from one item to the next: from scintillating evening bags to the ornately decorative influences typical of distant cultures, to bags inspired by – and making use of – the natural world and the animal kingdom.

One thought-provoking handbag featuring the head of a leopard makes it plain that using the skins of endangered animals was once seen as the epitome of luxury while doing so today would be utterly unacceptable.


Next to elegant idiosyncratic style icons from the houses of Chanel, Hermès and Gucci are bags that were once strategically carried by Grace Kelly, Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton. The shapes of some bags which are geometric or explicitly narrative in nature look to pop culture for inspiration, examples being a red telephone bag or the green bag designed by Dutch designer Gilberthe Akkerman who was inspired by the paper bag.

It’s a Family Affair concludes with recent acquisitions made up of the youngest members of the museum’s family tree: Skin Tote from Satomi Minoshima (Japan), Hortensia, the It bag from Elza Wandler (The Netherlands) and IKEA x OFF-WHITE, Virgil Abloh’s (United States) version of Ikea’s familiar blue Frakta bag.

The icing on the cake

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a family of lucite bags. Beauties such as these were carried in the ‘50s by such stars as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Plastic may evoke associations with inexpensive items, yet the undiminished beauty of these transparent bags is a testament to their genuinely enduring character.

‘It’s a Family Affair’: a rich diversity of conversation pieces including classics from major fashion houses and idiosyncratic pièces uniques from individual designers adds to the inspiring and dynamic impression of the exceptional collection of The Museum of Bags Amsterdam.

What people are saying

I would recommend a stopover for any fan of purses!
One woman's acquiring a handbag led to a huge collection. Margaret Thatcher, Liz Taylor and Hillary Clinton's bags are all here.
"Loved this museum!"
Really gorgeous handbags with explanations. Fab restaurant there too and a tea shop.
"Spectacular place"

Discover items in this collection