Monday 10 August 2015

The Maurithuis

The Maurithuis, The Hague.

Set on Hovfijver Lake and beside the Dutch Parliament building and completed in 1644, the building is considered among the finest examples of Dutch classical architecture.

When we visited, the refurbishment, designed by Dutch architect Hans van Heeswijk had been completed. The renovation has doubled the size of the museum without spoiling any of its character and allure.

The entrance is now through the building's forecourt: you head down a glass and steel staircase

where a little surprise awaits you: little windows on the wall

give glimpses of the canal

that is adjacent to the museum

and then you finally reach a spacious underground lobby that contains the ticket desks, shop 

and the cloakroom lockers

a wonderful display of tulips on the ticket desk

this is Holland, after all.

The changes to the museum are important but peripheral. Once we left the modern extension nothing much has changed in the main building where all the galleries are.

The modestly sized rooms of this former palace are the perfect setting for the Maurithuis' wonderful collection of the Dutch Golden Age paintings. The size of the museum is one of its attractions: only about 250 paintings are on display, just right for half a day of highly enjoyable browsing, with no risk of cultural overload. The collection is a gem: 'The Maurithuis has perhaps the highest masterpiece quotient of any gallery in the world. But it's the total experience of these works in the building and the setting that is the essence of the place. The integrity of that experience hasn't been tampered with, and for that we must be grateful', says Mark Hudson in the Telegraph.


Paintings hang all around the grand staircase

and the abstract mural on the ceiling is a pleasant surprise

the glass box of the lift is the only new addition to the original building.
I originally wanted to go because I wanted to see Girl with Pearl Earring, View of Delft and The Goldfinch, but there are so many masterpieces in this small museum, that the whole experience is a real treat.

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