Clockwise, from top left Louis Vuitton, vanity case, 1969. Photo courtesy Simone Handbag Museum. Judith Leiber, penguin-shaped minaudière with crystal rhinestones and semi-precious stone

The best museums for handbag collectors

The best places to find inspiration for adding to your collection, whether you’re chasing Chanel or hunting for Hermès 

Housed in a splendid 17th-century property along the Herengracht in the centre of Amsterdam, the Tassenmuseum Hendrikje features more than 5,000 pieces which span the 16th century to the present day.

Goatskin bag with iron frame, France, 1500-1599. This bag was likely used by a merchant during the 16th century. It has two iron belt loops that would have enabled it to be worn at the waist for safekeeping. Within the body of the bag are some 18 separate compartments, presumably used to sort different currencies. Some of these pockets are concealed, and were probably intended to deter would-be

Goatskin bag with iron frame, France, 1500-1599. This bag was likely used by a merchant during the 16th century. It has two iron belt loops that would have enabled it to be worn at the waist for safekeeping. Within the body of the bag are some 18 separate compartments, presumably used to sort different currencies. Some of these pockets are concealed, and were probably intended to deter would-be thieves. Photo: Courtesy Tassenmuseum Amsterdam

Bamboo and wood handbag, 1970-1979. In 2016 a young brand called Cult Gaia debuted a bamboo bag that quickly became the summer ‘It-Bag’. Although the production of bamboo bags is a centuries-old Japanese tradition, it cannot be said with certainty that this design is of Japanese origin. The majority of vintage bags with a similar design to the Cult Gaia bag come from the 1960s and

Bamboo and wood handbag, 1970-1979. In 2016 a young brand called Cult Gaia debuted a bamboo bag that quickly became the summer ‘It-Bag’. Although the production of bamboo bags is a centuries-old Japanese tradition, it cannot be said with certainty that this design is of Japanese origin. The majority of vintage bags with a similar design to the Cult Gaia bag come from the 1960s and 1970s. a period which saw a revival of Japonism in the West. Photo: Courtesy Tassenmuseum Amsterdam

This fascinating overview of the evolution of handbags began as a single bag in the hands of an antique dealer, which grew into a private collection that has now become an institution that stages renowned exhibitions.

The Simone Handbag Museum opened in 2012 and is housed in a handbag-shaped building, called the Bagstage, in Seoul’s Gangnam District.

Letter case, British, circa 1780. Photo Courtesy Simone Handbag Museum

Letter case, British, circa 1780. Photo: Courtesy Simone Handbag Museum

Its permanent display features 300 pieces dating from 1550, with the upper level showcasing historical design and the lower level dedicated to 20th-century and contemporary pieces, with an emphasis on Western design.

The Modern Gallery at the Simone Handbag Museum in Seoul. Photo Courtesy Simone Handbag Museum

The Modern Gallery at the Simone Handbag Museum in Seoul. Photo: Courtesy Simone Handbag Museum

The Leiber Collection celebrates the life and work of designer and businesswoman Judith Leiber (1921-2018). Leiber was born in Budapest and became the first woman to join the Hungarian Handbag Guild, before moving to New York where she founded her business in 1963.

Judith Leiber, peacock-shaped multicolour rhinestone minaudière, 2004. 4½ in x 6 in x 1¾ in (11.43 cm x 15.24 cm x 4.45 cm). Photo Gary Mamay, courtesy of The Leiber Collection, USA

Judith Leiber, peacock-shaped multicolour rhinestone minaudière, 2004. 4½ in x 6 in x 1¾ in (11.43 cm x 15.24 cm x 4.45 cm). Photo: Gary Mamay, courtesy of The Leiber Collection, USA

Judith Leiber, penguin-shaped minaudière with crystal rhinestones and semi-precious stone details, 2011. 6¾  x 3⅛ x 3⅜ in (17.1 x 7.9 x 8.6 cm). Photo Gary Mamay, courtesy of The Leiber Collection, USA

Judith Leiber, penguin-shaped minaudière with crystal rhinestones and semi-precious stone details, 2011. 6¾ x 3⅛ x 3⅜ in (17.1 x 7.9 x 8.6 cm). Photo: Gary Mamay, courtesy of The Leiber Collection, USA

Known for her ornate crystal clutches in anthropomorphic and geometric shapes, Judith Leiber was one of the first designers to be extensively collected. Her creations are now in the permanent collections of the V&A, the Met, and the Smithsonian.