Mata Hari Exhibit Celebrates, Exonerates

Mata Hari

“The word of Sin is Restriction. O man! refuse not thy wife, if she will! O lover, if thou wilt, depart! There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse. Accursed! Accursed be it to the aeons! Hell.” –The Book of the Law I:41

Mata Hari Dancing

Mata Hari dancing in the Musée Guimet (1905)

At the Museum of Friesland in the Netherlands, the largest ever Mata Hari exhibition opened on 14 October 2017, one hundred years after her death. The exhibit includes personal belongings, photographs, scrapbooks, letters and military records. Using these items, the visitor can travel with Margaretha Zelle, the girl behind the iconic Mata Hari. The exhibition website asks:

How did the daughter of a wealthy Leeuwarden hat seller become an international myth? Where did her preference for men in uniform come from? Why did her marriage fail and how did fate treat Margaretha in the Dutch East Indies? What role did motherhood play in her life? What drove her to seek a new life in Paris? Was she a dreamer or a spy – if the latter, then did she work for the Germans or the French, or both?

How much of her execution was driven by actual espionage, and how much by the desire to shame her for freely exercising her sexuality? The exhibition Mata Hari, the myth and the maiden can be viewed in the Museum of Friesland in Leeuwarden until 2 April 2018. Learn more in the following articles:


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