Museum Rotterdam: Lions on the Coolsingel

Fotografie: Lotte Stekelenburg

Unbelievable war stories

In 2020, it will be 80 years since Rotterdam was bombed. The bombing lasted no more than fifteen minutes but left a devastating trail in the Maasstad. The smoke had not yet disappeared when the first unbelievable stories circulated through the city. For example, lions would have walked on the Coolsingel and a miller was said to  have saved his mill by turning the blades. Over the years, these unbelievable stories turned into classical Rotterdam myths. Although not always historically correct, these exceptional stories are the central theme of the temporary exhibition Leeuwen op de Coolsingel – Ongelofelijke verhalen uit de oorlog in Museum Rotterdam. Together, with OPERA Amsterdam, Studio louter created the concept and design of the exhibition.


In the middle part of the exhibition, visitors wander through a surreal landscape of ruins from the bombed city. Between the shards and broken bricks are objects such as a fused sewing machine and a ring made of a piece of metal and a coin. In five themes, the visitors come into contact with the many stories about Rotterdam during the Second World War. These unbelievable stories often have a surprising grain of truth. The strength of these myths is that they have helped to make the incomprehensibility  of war struck life, a little more comprehensible. The stories give hope, courage and the will to carry on.


Around the ruins from the city, five artists from Rotterdam have made large murals of the unbelievable stories. Each mural features a film in which the artist explains his vision on the artworks to the curators of the exhibition. In this way, it becomes clear to the visitor that the unbelievable wartime stories are the myths on which the new city was built.


Temporary exhibition


OPERA Amsterdam


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