Teyler van der Hulst, Pieter
Founder of Teylers Museum (1702 - 1778)
Teyler van der Hulst was the descendant of a Baptist family active in the
textile industry which had emigrated to Haarlem from
Scotland to Haarlem for religious
reasons. Though he was just as successful as his father in the cloth and silk
trade, in 1763 he gradually started to shift his activities to the financial sector.
A typical product of the Enlightenment, Teyler had a broad interest in the arts
and sciences, in each of which he started collections. He was also very
interested in theology. In 17[..] he married Helena Wijnands Verschaven.
In 1756, shortly after his wife's death, Pieter Teyler drew up his will. He bequeathed his considerable fortune to a foundation that was to be administrated by five directors drawn from his Baptist friends. The objectives of the foundation were to promote religion, the arts and sciences - fields in which the Teylers Foundation is still active: the two geleerde Genootschappen that fall under it still organise competitions. Charity and the care of the poor are also objectives of the Teylers Foundation.
In 1778, after Pieter Teylers' death, the Foundation became the owner of his house in Damstraat, and of his library and collections of natural history, drawings and medallic art. Even though the first directors saw little value in Teylers' own collection, which was largely sold, in 1779 they commissioned Leendert Viervant to design a Boek- en Konstzael (literally, ‘book and art room') behind the Fundatiehuis. This led to the creation of the Oval Room, which opened to the public in 1784.
Thus, thanks to Pieter Teyler, we still have direct access to the arts and sciences of recent centuries.