The history of the Flood museum

Any plans and ideas about creating a museum dedicated to the Flood of 1953 were always just that. Even the Phoenix-caissons, which in October 1953 were used to close the gap in the dykes at Ouwerkerk, were nothing more than big, concrete blocks in the landscape.

A project
That all changed in 1993 at the 40th memorial of the Flood. Old ideas resurfaced and a think tank was set up. Under supervision of Ria Geluk the project really took off. The think tank’s idea was to build the museum inside the Phoenix-caissons. That was a proper challenge for construction expert Evert Joosse from Kloetinge, who, with the help of volunteers, designed the plans.

Countryside innovation
In order to realise the plans, the expertise of an external company, Podium, was brought in to find ways and means of funding the project. Under the header of “countryside innovation”, government departments, companies and funds were found that were willing to subsidise the project.

In September and October 2000, with the project being well ahead of schedule, the decision was made to start opening the museum to visitors. During the following winter the final touches were put into place. Monique de Vries, then state of secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure and water management, officially opened the Flood Museum in the presence of many volunteers, sponsors and well-wishers.
The museum has been considerably extended and rebuilt after the official opening. Each one of the four Phoenix-caissons is connected to the other caissons through hallways and they are all designed to hold exhibitions. Remembering and commemorating are the key words for the museum, but the main purpose of the exhibitions is to educate. Throughout the museum, connections are made between the Flood and new insights in water management.

If you want get an impression of the rebuilding and expanding, you can watch the movie from 2007 and also a more recent film. Additionally, many photographs of all the work have been taken.

National monument
On the sixth of November 2003, exactly 50 years after closing the last gap in the dyke at Ouwerkerk, the four caissons, which house the museum, received the title National Monument Flood 1953 by the then Home Office minister Johan Remkes.

The surroundings of the museum are also a part of the National Monument, as the inlets, the leftover part of the old dyke, the inlagen (areas of land between the main dyke and a reserve dyke further inland) and the surrounding nature areas were directly formed by the effects the Flood of 1953.

An observation tower on the dyke by caisson four gives you a view over the land towards the Oosterschelde. In the small sand dyke between the inlagen are smaller caissons visible. By the exit of caisson four is the remembrance monument for all the victims of the Flood, donated by the council of Schouwen-Duiveland.

In the area surrounding the museum are various walking routes from two till eight kilometers in length. Apart from the surroundings of the museum, the routes go through the cemetery of Ouwerkerk and past the wooden homes the survivors received as gift after losing their own home to the Flood.