Nieuwenkamp Museum Foundation

Houseboat De Zwerver

During their honeymoon in 1900, Wijnand discussed his plans about living in a travelling home with Anna. He did not want settle permanently. They decided they would live on the water and so he built them a houseboat, the De Zwerver, a beautiful home, with a studio. For ten years the young family sailed around the waters of Northern Europe, mooring in many places, particularly across the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. During this time their four children were born: Marianne, Willem, Maria and Fernande (Ferry).

A home of his own design
Nieuwenkamp drew the design for the De Zwerver himself and worked up the design in cooperation with boatyard boss Sjollema. He also helped to build the boat. The boat's interior resembled, and still does, a classic seventeenth century Amsterdam canal house. From 1902 onward, the boat sailed on canals and lakes. Usually tugs would tow the De Zwerver, but sometimes they used horses to draw the boat, or they would simply pole. Nieuwenkamp set up a studio, including an etching-press, on board, and he and his family started to live on the boat.
Since 2011 the De Zwerver has been back in the possession of the Nieuwenkamp Museum Foundation. Currently the board is examining the options for its future use.

Exhibitions on board
Anyone who ever visited the De Zwerver was amazed by its beautiful interior design. Word of mouth advertising proved to be very effective. The painter Theophile the Bock visited the boat and suggested that Nieuwenkamp hold an exhibition of his art work aboard the boat and charge entrance fees. Initial hesitation ultimately gave way to enthusiasm, and in August 1902 Nieuwenkamp organised his first exhibition on board. To say it simply worked, would be an understatement! There was a run on his works of art! . And so the De Zwerver was converted into a sailing house-cum-art gallery, mooring in lots of different places, so that people could see and buy Nieuwenkamp’s works.