For anyone who loves fashion, and particularly handbags, there are a small number of museums around the world that are dedicated to the humble handbag. From rare surviving historic pieces to contemporary classics and iconic aspirational pieces, you can see it all.
Here are the world’s top collections…
Museum of Bags and Purses (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
This is the world’s largest museum dedicated specifically to purses and handbags. It includes five thousand items which date back as far as the 1500’s, and the vast majority of visitors are, perhaps not surprisingly, women. The museum is situated in Amsterdam’s UNESCO World Heritage area in a patrician house dating from the 1600’s, located on the prestigious Herengracht Canal. The collection includes mediaeval coin purses, sweetmeat pouches, elaborately decorated vintage handbags, and modern iconic handbags. The most valuable item in the collection is a man’s goat skin belt pouch with iron clasps which dates from the 1500’s.
Simone Handbag Museum (Seoul, South Korea)
This museum in the Bagstage building in the Gangnam District of Seoul showcases three hundred handbags dating from 1550 to the modern day. It is separated into two sections; Historic (1550-1900) Twentieth Century & Contemporary. Most of the contents of the collection are of European origin, with some later pieces from the USA.
Sackrider Museum of Handbags
This unique online-only museum based from Chicago, Illinois, is a virtual museum dedicated to all things handbag. It’s dedication is to collecting, preserving, interpreting, and educating the public all over the world on the diverse story of handbags from antiquity to the present day. The collection dates from the 1890’s to today. Visit the collection at The Sack
Esse Purse Museum (Little Rock, Arkansas, USA)
This fun and quirky museum in Little Rock’s South Main district comprises more than three and a half thousand handbag-related items including totes, clutches, designer handbags, purses and much more. See handbags that date from the turn of the last century to the present day; from the conservative to the eclectic and even the outrageous. It’s all here.
We highly recommend you spend some time in these fantastic museums if the opportunity presents itself. You never know what you will find, and it’s interesting (and fun!) to see where inspiration for today’s designer handbags was born.