The Heroine’s Journey of Sigrid Ivo

Sigrid Ivo artistic director and daughter of the founders of the Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassenmuseum Hendrikje ) in Amsterdam about her passion, her work.

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

I enjoy every day to have the privilege to work with such a beautiful collection in such a magnificent building. It is great to see that the collection and location of our museum (The Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam) gives visitors inspiration and joy. With great passion and pleasure I like to think about future exhibitions, determine future strategy, look for new items to add to the collection and help promote and inspire (young) designers. In this rapidly changing world I love to be inspired by my colleagues, young people, other colleague museums, interesting cities like London and innovative developments.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Important to me is having my family and closest friends around. Having them over or plan activities with them brings me joy. Also happiness to me is collecting glass; Mauchline Ware, tin boxes and historical information on bags. I like to read, visit inspiring city’s with different cultures or stroll at a book store or at an antique market. Finally driving through beautiful and wide landscapes, preferably in a cabriolet….pure happiness to me.

What is my greatest fear?

Getting ill. My greatest fear is to get dementia. This disease slowly takes your personality and identity. It makes you vulnerable, insecure and scared. I believe this disease, like all mental health diseases, needs more attention and there should be more money available for research. And above all, there need to be more attention for humane, respectful and customized care.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

Although my work is my passion, I’m often too focused on the job. I tend to pay too little attention to my personal life. Sometimes I wish I was a bit more dedicated to myself as I am to the museum.

Which living person in my profession do I most admire?

I admire my colleague director Judikje Kiers from the Amsterdam Museum. An inspiring, enthusiastic and warm lady; a great expert in the field of museums. My admiration is also for the Foam director Marloes Krijnen. Foam shows great exhibitions and introduces all new kind of activities such as the Foam Magazine, the yearly photo fair Unseen and their Foam pop-up store. I am also a huge fan of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Foam and V&A present themselves as the museum in their profession. Both are progressive and innovative in their field.

What is my greatest extravagance?

My greatest extravagance is buying vintage bags for the collection and collecting historical information on bags. My dream is to bring my archive together in our museum. My extravagance is also collecting items for my other collections. Another more masculine one is my love for (old) cars, for driving and for speediness.

On what occasion would I lie?

I would lie in occasions in case I have to protect my beloved ones. Or tell a white lie to avoid hurting loved ones or to avoid difficult situations.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

After being the general director of the Museum of Bags and Purses for nine years, I am happy to say that I am the artistic director of the museum since June 2016. The business side and the general management of the museum always had less of my interest. It was part of the job, but as an artistic director I can now follow my passion to work on and inspire the creative part of the museum.

When and where was I the happiest in my work?

My happiest moment in my work was the opportunity the day we moved with the museum to the center of Amsterdam where we reopened in June 2007.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

I would love to be a bit taller.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

My greatest achievement in work, together with my colleagues, is welcoming yearly more than 70.000 visitors from all over the world. It brings a lot of satisfaction that our visitors enjoy their visit and experience the museum as being surprising, beautiful and most interesting. We are very proud that we are listed in Top 15 of the World Fashion Museums.

Where would I most like to live?

I find London and New York the most inspiring and interesting cities. I therefore visit them regularly. But I would love to live in Amsterdam or Berlin. These cities are besides being inspiring more relaxed and easy going. Another place where I would like to live is along the coast, near the shore of the ocean or along a river. I love wide views.

What is my most treasured possession?

My family, friends, my home with my books and collections and my memories.

What is my most marked characteristic?

I am very eager to learn and I have broad interests. I can be very enthusiastic and very optimistic about things. In addition I can get easily stressed. I am working on that; work in progress.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?

The Museum of Bags and Purses is located in a marvelous building, dated from 1664 along the beautiful canals of Amsterdam.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city?

I am living in the city Amstelveen, a city right next to Amsterdam with lots of green. We have the best Chinese restaurant Yu Woah of the world. The owner and chef of the restaurant Hu Shao Ting won the prestigious World Championship of Chinese Cuisine in 2016.

What books influenced my life and how?

A great book I read recently is ‘The Hare with Amber Eyes’ from Edmund de Waal. It was recommend by visitors in the museum. De Waal tells the story of his family, the Ephrussi, once a very wealthy European Jewish banking dynasty, centered in Odessa, Vienna and Paris. Along a collection of 264 netsuke’s Edmund inherit, he follows back 5 generations of family history. The book shows his family’s history throughout Europe from 1871 until years after The Second World War. I am fascinated and very interested in European history, specially Middle European History.

Who are my favorite writers?

I have not one favorite writer. I read a lot and different kind of genres , from literature , novels to historical novels, to specialist literature.

You only die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?

I would listen jazz and pop from my youth till now. I like music from Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Abba to my recent favorites one: 99 Luftballons from Nena and My Silver Lining from First Aid Kit.

Who is my hero and or heroine in fiction?

I am a big fan of science fiction.

Who is my heroes and or heroine in real life?

My heroes/ heroine in real life are people who fight for freedom, democracy and emancipation in a society where these values are not automatic granted anymore. They often risk their life to project these values; like the Pakistan girl Malala Yousafzai.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

From the past the movie Passage to India (1984), the Piano (1993) or the Pianist (2002) and recent the French movie The Untouchables (2011).

What role plays art in my life and work?

I am raised with art, architecture, crafts, antiques and beautiful things around me. Arts feeds me, gives me inspiration, emotions and pleasure. I could not life without it.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

My greatest fans and partners in crime are my parents, Hendrikje and Heinz Ivo, who are the collectors and founders of the Museum of Bags and Purses. My greatest partners in crime are also the staff and volunteers of the museum that are so dedicated and enthusiastic about the museum. And our greatest sponsor and also partner in crime is Henk van den Broek who made it possible that the Museum of Bags and Purses could move in 2007 from Amstelveen to the great spot in the center of Amsterdam.

Whom would I love to meet in 2017?

I would love to meet in 2017 a sponsor who feels connected to the museum, our ideas and who is willing to help us to realize exhibitions and other projects. I also would love to meet much more (young) talented handbag designers .

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017?

I would like to meet in the field of fashion and handbags Karl Lagerfeld and Miuccia Prada, the greatest designers in this time.

What project, in 2017, I am looking forward to work on?

We are busy finding funds and money for the redecoration of the permanent exhibition area in our museum which is 10 years old. We are also preparing an exhibition on tour to Russia and other countries.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017?

You can visit us, the Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassenmuseum Hendrikje) at the Herengracht 573 in Amsterdam. See also our website:

What do the words ‘Passion Never Retires’ mean to me?

Passion knows no age. A passion for work, hobby, art, craft, to create thinks and such keeps you going, interested, curious, young and active in body, mind and spirit.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?

Peter should invite Jantien Nunnikhoven, co-founder of Designed for Living and former chief editor of the Dutch living magazine Residence. Jantien designed the interior of the Museum of Bags and Purses. We both have the dream to design a hotel together. She is a very inspiring, enthusiastic, interesting , nice and warm lady to work with and an expert in the field of interior design.

How can you contact me?

You can contact me in The Museum of Bags and Purses, telephone: 00 31 (0) 20-5246452, Mail: or

Facebook: @TassenmuseumHendrikje

Instagram: tassenmuseumhendrikje

And you can follow my personal Facebook and Instagram.


Sigrid Ivo. Bags, A Selection From The Museum Of Bags & Purses Amsterdam. Pepin Press, Amsterdam 2012 (revised edition).

For sale on (edition 2011) , and webshop of Museum of Bags and Purses:


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