Dutch delegation drops by city formerly known as Wiltwyck

From left, Tessa Dikker, Jan Kennis and Greta Wagle, president and executive director of The Onrust Project. (photo by Dan Barton)

On Wednesday, May 24, the Hudson River Maritime Museum and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation played host to a visit from a delegation the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diplomats have been scouting the valley, once part of New Netherlands, as part of a drive to strengthen cultural ties and bring more visitors from our former mother country to Holland’s ex-colony. Jan Kennis, deputy consul general, said he was “really impressed by the amount of common heritage” he found in Kingston, called Wiltwyck back when the Dutch were in charge. He added that a roundtable is set for next month back in Amsterdam on increasing visits to the Hudson Valley from the Netherlands. “[Netherlanders] don’t have a clue that there used to be a third Dutch town” in America, Kennis said, calling his visit a solid step “in focusing on new partnerships and cooperations.”

While at the museum, Kennis — who pointed out that his name translates to “knowledge” in Dutch — and Tessa Dikker, the consulate’s cultural officer in charged of shared heritage, took a tour of the Onrust, a replica of a Dutch yacht built in America back in the 17th century that’s been wintering at the museum. Lana Chassman, the museum’s PR director, noted that according to statistics from the state’s I Love New York pro-tourism initiative, close to 700,000 visitors are expected to come to the area by 2019. “We’d like some of them to come to Kingston,” she said, noting that Wednesday’s visit, which also included a stop at the Senate House, was the result of “a super-symbiotic relationship between I Love New York, the OPRHP and the Hudson River Maritime Museum.”