The Cabinet of Dr A.B. van Deinse

This permanent exhibition provides an overview of Dr A.B. van Deinse’s collection of zoological curiosities and remains of marine mammals.

History of the collection
At the beginning of the First World War, four dead fin whales washed up on the Dutch coast. They had collided with naval mines. Biologist Anton Boudewijn van Deinse (1885 - 1965), biology teacher at Erasmiaans Gymnasium in Rotterdam, got wind of it, went to the coast and collected seven baleen plates between Katwijk and Scheveningen. After this event, Van Deinse devoted the rest of his life to studying whales and other marine mammals.

In fifty years, he assembled an impressive natural history collection at Erasmiaans Gymnasium; the so-called ‘Cabinet Van Deinse’. It consisted of skeletal parts of cetaceans and dolphins and all manner of relics of Dutch whaling (the fleshy parts of these animal being preserved in spirit). As a teacher, he also enriched his cabinet with numerous zoological curiosities that he used in his biology lessons.

Van Deinse manufactured his preparations in an inimitable way with iron wire, black lacquered boards, frames and pedestals and labeled everything extensively in his characteristic handwriting or with template letters. After his death, Erasmiaans Gymnasium transferred part of the collection to the Natural History Museum Rotterdam and to Naturalis in Leiden. In 1987 the museum received the remainder of his collection. The Van Deinse collection has been on permanent display since 2000.