Introduction: the museum collection

History and purpose of the museum collection and website

Prof. J.L. van Soest (1898-1983)
Prof. J.L. van Soest (1898-1983)

The items in this museum are primarily technical products designed for military purposes. Related laboratory equipment is shown as well as other objects of historical interest. These items originate from the Physics Laboratory TNO and the Laboratory for Electronic Development for the Armed Forces LEOK, both of which are predecessors of the present-day TNO location The Hague Waalsdorp.

The eldest experimental objects are from the collection of professor van Soest who started the defence research at Waalsdorp in 1927. Much of the pre-second world war material deliberately destroyed following the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940. No research objects were systematically preserved during the Second World War and the period thereafter. Moreover, the move of the old Physics Laboratory building to the present building in 1969 resulted in the disappearance of many old objects. Nevertheless, many old items and even a few objects from before 1940 surfaced around 1977 when the Physics Laboratory TNO prepared an exhibition for its 50th anniversary. This event started the beginning of a permanent exhibition. In 1984, several items from the Laboratory for Electronic Developments for the Armed Forces (LEOK) were added to the collection when the Physics Laboratory TNO and LEOK (then also TNO) merged into the Physics and Electronics Laboratory TNO. All this resulted in a historical collection although some gaps exist due to missing tangible equipment. 
From 2018 onwards, the collection gradually will be extended with objects from the other TNO Defence, Safety and Security locations Prins Maurits Laboratory, Rijswijk/Ypenburg en the Human Factors research in Soesterberg. Moreover, the museum website contains descriptions of a number of historic military and civil projects and impact achievements which are less connected to tangible objects, e.g. software and reports.

The Museum Waalsdorp has a public relations function of the TNO unit Defence, Safety and Security. The museum can be only visited by appointment. Museum Waalsdorp runs entirely on a team of approximately ten dedicated retired TNO employees who – as volunteers – manage and describe the collection. They also conduct research into the history of the technology used by TNO’s unit Defence, Safety and Security and in previous research projects.