This essay asks why the Dutch national museums did not offer any coherent historical narratives in the nineteenth century; but only isolated objects that were not set into the context of a coherent narrative. After some preliminary remarks; I will give a summary of how the theme of history was approached in these museums. The historical dimension appeared as an explicit element of display only at the beginning and end of the century. In the interim period (1806-c.1870) art and the aesthetic value of objects; was more important than history; a fact that may be observed by looking at both the acquisitions and their presentation. The development of funds available for the museum that may be observed after a long ‚Äėperiod of national indifference‚Äô (1830-c.1870) was accompanied by a new consideration for objects of historical interest. But even when the Netherlands Museum for History and Art; combining history and the applied arts; founded in The Hague in 1876 was transferred to Amsterdam and opened in 1887 as part of the new Rijksmuseum; history remained a subject of minor importance. Even during the rearrangement of the history sections in the 1930s in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam when a coherent story was finally displayed; art historians retained the upper hand.