Posters by Evoluon creator and Philips designer Louis Kalff promoted Scheveningen Beach Resort. Some of his designs are now displayed in a The Hague exhibition. This exhibition is part of a series of events and activities celebrating 200 years of Scheveningen Beach Resort.
How it started
These days, one boards an intercity from Eindhoven CS and arrives at The Hague CS in just over one and a half hours. From here, a bus or tram takes tourists to Scheveningen in 15 to 30 minutes.
Life was not always this simple. A family exhibition at the Haags Historisch Museum shows how much (beach) life changed, over the past 200 years.
In 1818, a Dutch entrepreneur built a bathing house at Scheveningen. The fellow saw opportunities, where for centuries, others had only spotted a fishing village with no harbour and transport problems.
The entrepreneur was right: taking a sea cure became fashionable. In no time, grand hotels lined Scheveningen beach. The Beach Resort started competing with places like Ostend, Blankenberge, Domburg; not to mention sea resorts in Great Britain and France.
At Scheveningen, the grand hotels joined forces. Using smart marketing, sales and promotion techniques, the beach resort attracted Victorian tourists from all over Europe.
The Haags Historisch Museum’s exhibition “Greetings from Scheveningen” used a poster by Louis Kalff as inspiration. This family exhibition shows two centuries of beach life not chronologically, but grouped around three themes: morning, afternoon, evening.
The exhibition shows how transport to Scheveningen changed between 1818 and 2018. Once in Scheveningen, Victorian guests went to their grand hotels, where they had booked rooms by letters; not websites and emails.
Victorians booked several rooms. Moreover, a sea-cure could last weeks, if not months. No overnight stay or weekend-breaks!
Mornings were dedicated to bathing. Either in a tub filled with sea water, or by skinny-dipping under the drawn cover of a bathing machine. Prude Victorians soon donned “bloomers”, or rented male bathing costumes to visit segregated beaches. By now, mixed beaches, swimming, sun-bathing, bikinis are the norm.
Afternoons were spent digging holes or building castles, lolling in chairs or taking a stroll along the beach. Slightly later, sporty types opted for golf, tennis, horse-riding, sailing and similar activities. Posters promoting the beach resort throughout Europe show what the “Pearl of the North Sea” offered wealthy visitors.
In 1925, Dutch designer Louis Kalff joined Philips’ advertising department in Eindhoven. WWI had put an end to Victorian and Edwardian tourism. Scheveningen needed to attract new guests and asked Kalff to design advertising material.
Kalff’s poster which inspired the exhibition’s design, is iconic. What else to expect from the man who would later create Eindhoven’s Evoluon!
It shows three stylized female heads. Each woman is aptly dressed for morning, afternoon, or evening activities. The various hotels and entertainment offered are listed around the border, while beach and evening activities are shown in the background.
Kalff’s lady wearing a pearl necklace, might have worn the smart evening gown displayed in this exhibition. Unlike Victorian guests, she would have left her hotel seeking evening entertainment elsewhere. Perhaps she visited a theatre, café dansant, the casino?
Grand hotels like Scheveningen’s Kurhaus had their own concert halls, where orchestras like the Berlin Philharmonic once entertained guests. By the 1960s, a totally different audience attended a concert by the Rolling Stones here. Photos and a video show what happened: the band had to flee the building!
Kalff’s iconic promotion material, the first surfboard, donkey-rides, ostrich-carts, bloomers, bikinis, the Rolling Stones and a host of other items welcome all ages at the Haags Historisch Museum till 11th of November 2018.
The museum is within walking distance of The Hague CS, the Mauritshuis and other museums around the Hofvijver. These museums can be visited using a Hofvijver-ticket and are close to shops, café’s, restaurants.
Need more inspiration for a day-trip or weekend-break in The Hague or Scheveningen? Visit The Hague’s VVV website. Then as now, it promotes town and Scheveningen and many activities listed on Kallf’s poster are still available. Check opening hours, if you prefer to visit a VVV office in person.
Want to spend a day at the beach, but don’t fancy joining crowds cramming into trams to busy Scheveningen? Take HTM bus 26 from The Hague HS, or HTM bus 24 from The Hague CS to Kijkduin. A much smaller resort, Kijkduin offers less crowded beaches.
Images used with permission