The city of Alkmaar in the province of Noord Holland is the principal centre of the cheese trade in Holland. Dealing in cheese now takes place at an exchange, but every Friday in the summer visitors can watch the traditional open air market, in which cheeses are weighed before they are sold, as they have been since the early 17th century.
The museum of the cheese trade is located on the upper floors of the 14th century Waaggebouw (weigh house), the building that dominates the centre of the city. The collection includes numerous utensils used in traditional dairies, amongst which is a particularly ornate cheese press of 1877, 24 paintings, the earliest from the 16th century, which show the place of cheese in everyday life in the region, and many photographs depicting the production of cheese and the market in Alkmaar. There are displays illustrating cheese production on a traditional Noord Holland farm and in the factories that were built in the region from the late 19th century, and the particular qualities of cheese made from cows grazing on the Schermer and Beemster polders. There are excellent interpretive facilities, including a treasure hunt, for children.