The Ulenspiegel Museum gives an overview of five centuries of Ulenspiegel. The connection between the small town of Damme and Till Ulenspiegel goes back to the 17th century. Hero for freedom and jester, symbolising the Flemish spirit, he wanders about with his girlfriend Nele and his companion Lamme Goedzak.
This view on Till Ulenspiegel dates from the nineteenth century. The French-Flemish author Charles De Coster wrote his book "La légende d'Ulenspiegel" in 1867. The original Ulenspiegel, created by Hermann Bote, author in Braunschweig (Germany), about 1500, is a villain, who oversteps the confines set by the forming commonalty and turns the world upside down. Bote, social-conservative, warns the commonalty: do not be like Ulenspiegel! His work was printed in Strasbourg and introduced in Antwerp. The European diffusion of the stories of Ulenspiegel starts with the Dutch translation. Gradually, the knavish tricks of a scoundrel become the rogiush tricks of a joker.
The novel by De Coster gives the figure of Ulenspiegel a new impulse. Till becomes the adversary of King Philip II of Spain and is committed to the freedom struggle of the Low Countries. Since then, Till has been given different personalities: critical individual, striving proletarian, representative of the "Herrenvolk" and hero of the resistance during the Second World War. He plays the leading role in children's books, is the hero in cartoons, the star of ilms, theatre productions, oratorio and songs. Wherever he appears, he causes trouble and turns the world upside down.
The museum shows the different aspects of Ulenspiegel, as well as the cultural and historical context, which forms the foundation of these aspects. The collection consists of copies of medieval manuscripts, copies of prints and paintings from the sixteenth century, bilbiophile editions, engravings, and sculptures.