Artists have been attracted to the bustling activity on the beach of Katwijk since the 17th century. Among others, Jan van Goyen (one of the famous ‘miniature- painters’ of Leiden) made sketches of it while touring Holland. As far as is known, more than 1100 artists have worked in Katwijk, most of them between 1870 and 1914.
They lodged in one of the two hotels, and subsequently also in pension-houses or by Katwijkers at home (so called ‘thuisleggers’ or house-lodgers). A number of them even ordered houses to be built for them on the Boulevard. Not only the Dutch artists such as Jan Toorop, Willy Sluijter and B.J. Blommers but also foreigners such as the Germans Hans van Bartels, German Grobe and Gerhard ‘Morgenstjerne’ Munthe and the Americans Castle Keith and Mulert, lived and worked for shorter or longer periods in Katwijk. Also artists from England, Belgium and even Japan worked here. Thus the artists-colony of Katwijk was created, united together in the Katwijk Arts Society, they organized a number of collective exhibitions in a building which used to stand on the Boulevard. The First World War, and the gradual disappearance of the flat-bottom fishing- smacks from the beach brought an end to all of this.
The painting collection of the museum is composed mainly of works from the period 1870 to 1914, although it is since a number of years being expanded by the acquisition of work from present day ‘en plein air’ artists, who work outdoors in the open air. You can see them, in the summer, once again behind their easels at work on the beach or in the village.
The Museum’s own collection is exhibited, in rotation, in the Meerburg-room, what was the living-room of the Meerburg family. The Grobe-room, that leads off it, is more suitable for fragile works such as drawings, watercolours and gouaches.
The Bottema-room is found on the first floor. This room is named after the printer-etcher and illustrator Tjerd Bottema (1884-1978), who lived and worked in Katwijk for many years. Thanks to his legacy, the Katwijk Museum in 1983 could be set up and housed in the former ship-owners villa. The works of Tjeerd Bottema, his brother Tjerk, his wife Cornelia van Amstel and their daughters Hil and Johanna are displayed, in this room, in changing exhibitions.
The Van der Plas-room, named after a former member of the board, is connected to a new room, since the last rebuilding. These rooms are used for temporary exhibitions of one artist or a theme, such as the annual large summer exhibition. In addition temporary exhibitions are set up, often showing the work of modern day artists who have a connection to Katwijk: sculptures, painters, graphic-artists, photographers, ceramists but also textile-artists and jewelers.