Introduction: The museum collection


History and purpose of the museum collection and website


Prof. J.L. van Soest (1898-1983)
Prof. dr. ir. 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. TNO is the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research.

The eldest experimental objects are from the collection of Professor Dr. ir. van Soest who started the defence research at Waalsdorp in 1927. Much of the pre-second world war material was 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 and a systematic collection.

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 will gradually be extended with objects from the other TNO Defence, Safety and Security locations: the TNO Prins Maurits Laboratory in Rijswijk/Ypenburg and the TNO Institute for Perception (IZF), the later TNO Human Factors Research Institute in Soesterberg. Moreover, the museum website contains descriptions of many historic military and civil projects and impact achievements that sometimes relate less 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 only be 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 research the history of the technology used by TNO’s unit Defence, Safety and Security, previous research projects, and more.
Information about current research advancements and innovations can be found on the main website of TNO.