The Ten Boom Museum, Gutsy Girls, and 9 Facts You Can’t Learn From Photos

Since I started researching the Ten Boom family for Gutsy Girls, I’ve dreamed of visiting their home in the Netherlands. Then when I found out the museum’s bookshop was carrying Gutsy Girls on sisters, Corrie and Betsie ten Boom, the illustrator, Beverly Wines, and I decided to board a plane.

Bread, tulips, truly good people, and the gorgeous city of Haarlem. Oh my. When I tell you I ate approximately four loaves of bread during my three-day visit to the Netherlands, this is not an exaggeration. See this bread? I ate it. All of it. Fine, minor exaggeration.

Corrie ten Boom: watch shop worker, caretaker of foster children, people with disabilities, and the persecuted, Dutch resistance worker, concentration camp survivor, lover of God, speaker of truth, forgiver of sins, flat out ordinary woman who trusted in God, and lived an unimaginable life.

The Ten Boom Museum, Gutsy Girls, and 9 Facts You Can’t Learn From Photos

1.  Ten Boom is pronounced Ten Bome. Seriously. Think of the word “home” and put a “b” on it. Who knew?

2. The Ten Booms’ legacy lives on through a staff of 40 volunteers including one dedicated director. Meet Frits Nieuwstraten, a man who played in the Ten Boom home as a child and whose wife worked in the watch shop before she and Frits were married.

Talking with Frits Nieuwstraten, Director of the Ten Boom Museum

Frits has deep ties to the Ten Boom home, and Beverly and I enjoyed one-on-one time with Frits. People, it was highlight of our visit! Not only is Frits dedicated to his work at the museum, he is determined to take Corrie 4 Kids, a children’s program complete with lesson plans and videos into schools.

3. Once a watch shop, still a watch shop. The area in which the Ten Boom family ran their watch shop is now a jewelry store that sells watches. Even though this jewelry store isn’t a part of the museum, it’s housed in the same building, and I loved that the space is being used in a similar way that the Ten Booms used it.

Beverly showing the illustration of 800 watches in Gutsy Girls in front of the current jewlery shop.

4. Tours of the Ten Boom home are free! Visitors can and should make online reservations because tours fill quickly and there are only a set number of tours a day. There is a small fee for making reservations.

      Grote Square in Haarlem, Netherlands

5. Wait outside and mingle. Forget heading into the museum early. Instead, visitors wait outside until the door is opened by one of the museum’s staff members. Waiting outside is fun, and it allows visitors the chance to interact with people from all over the world (China, Brazil, England, Australia!) who also came to learn about the Ten Boom family.

6. The Ten Boom family prayed for Jewish people for over one hundred years. Although I knew this fact, it meant more when I sat in the living room and saw photos of the people who actually prayed for a people whom they had little connection. Corrie ten Boom’s father and grandfather held weekly prayer meetings for the Jews long before World War II started or the Ten Booms were personally involved in the lives of Jewish people. One hundred years.

Cathedral of St Bavo in Haarlem

7. Practice drills still happen in the Ten Boom home. On Mondays the museum is closed to the public, but open to school groups. During this time, children are led through an activity in which they pretend to be members of the Ten Boom family, an alarms rings, and the kids race upstairs and into the hiding place as fast as possible. These drills are similar to the drills the Ten Booms practiced, and I love that the museum allows children this experience.

    Entrance into the hiding place

     Peeking into the hiding place

8. The Ten Boom home is smaller than it appears in photos. The Ten Boom home is actually two homes joined together. There is a home in the front, which is where the watch shop was located. At some point, the back wall of the Ten Boom house was knocked out, and the front house was joined with a thin, steep house in the back. In between the homes is a steep winding staircase. Combining two houses sounds as if it would create a lot of space, right? Nope! For a house that was constantly full of foster children, family members, Jews, and Dutch resistance workers, the rooms in the Ten Boom home are small. Bedrooms, which housed multiple people looked like oversized closets.

9. Once a gathering place, still a gathering place. The Ten Boom home was always known as a safe place filled with people whose love of people was topped only by their love for Jesus. Visitors can feel that love even many years later.

    One of the fun people I met during the tour

Ten Boom Related Resources for You

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lisa Van Engen

    These are so great! I’m so excited you got to go!! The actual hiding place is so fascinating. You guys in front of the museum with the book is favorite 🙂

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      One of my all time favorite experiences for sure!

  • Melinda Whipple

    Really, my heart is just swelling up seeing how God put all this in place with you writing the book, the illustrator, the placement of the book in the museum and now your trip – just amazing and wonderful!!! So many will continue to share this wonderful real-life story of Corrie, her family and faith. Bless your heart Amy for your part in it.

    • Amy L. Sullivan

      Mindy,
      I am beyond thankful for this small part I play in all of this, and honestly, I still can’t believe it’s real! Thanks for all of the encouragement with this project (even in the beginning!).