Museum De Waag is located in one of the oldest weighing houses in the Netherlands. Situated on the Brink of Deventer, the building is one of the city’s iconic monuments. Ideally located on the banks of the river IJssel, Deventer played an important role in the Hanzeatic League. In 1344 the city was granted the right to organise annual fairs, and by 1386 Deventer held five such events every year. Traders and merchants from all wind directions flocked to Deventer to sell their products at the Brink. Fair trade was considered to be of vital importance, and measures were put in place to ensure the accurate weighing and sizing of goods. Constructed in 1528, the weighing house employed gauges and inspectors who weighed and sized products that were offered for sale by merchants. The proceeds from weighing and inspection became a primary source of income for the city. Deventer came to full bloom and prosperity in the 14th and 15th century, but the outbreak of the Eighty Years’ War led to a dramatic decline in the city’s trading position.
The Late Gothic building has three floors and features a stepped tower, a clock and three spiked towers. In 1643, a Late Mannerist landing with three columns was added to the front of the building, which also features staircases at both sides. Remarkable is the slightly slanting position of the construction. The monumental building is approximately 80 cm out of plumb, due to compacting of the soil beneath the old rampart, which ran along the Brink and on which the building was constructed.
All weighing activities were discontinued in the 19th century, after which the building became a so-called ‘Teekenschool’, a drawing school. For a brief period of time, it was even used as a telegraph station. The iconic building was turned into a museum in 1915, exhibiting the historical treasures of the city in a monumental setting ever since.