Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Renewal and Reopening of the Mauritshuis Museum

fig.2 Fotograaf: © Ronald Tilleman, Credits: Mauritshuis, Den Haag

The Mauritshuis Museum reopened on June 27 following a two-year long period of renovation. The massive refurbishing was made possible by the availability for rent of a part of a building across the street that once housed a private club. (fig. 1) The two buildings are now connected by a new underground lobby. The old museum has on permanent display, at it has in the past, treasures of the Dutch golden age including Rembrandt and Vermeer. The new wing has enhanced the museum’s educational facilities with new special exhibition rooms, lecture spaces for children and a library.

fig.1 The main building and new wing of the Mauritshuis
The renovation of the old museum structure focused on faithfully reproducing Jacob van Campen’s 17th century building representative of Dutch classical architecture. A repainting of the museum has highlighted the symmetric and straight lines of its design. The interior had been refurbished in the 18th century following a 1704 fire but according to the styles of the time rather than of the original. The plaster walls have now been repainted and the wallpaper replaced with woven silk cloth with beautiful patterns.

It was not only the buildings that were renovated during this long museum closure period. Climate control and lighting systems were improved. Ceiling paintings embedded as part of decorative murals were taken down and restored. Italian painter Pellegrini’s works from the Golden Room had discolored to gray from the soot of coal burning stoves. The cloudy gray film was removed, returning its original soft colors(fig.2).

fig.3 Johannes Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring,
c. 1665, Mauritshuis, The Hague.
In the galleries, the works of the leading painters of the Dutch Golden Age are displayed in roughly the same places as before the renovations. The 17th-century paintings such as Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulip and Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring(fig.2) and View of Delft that returned to the newly restored museum fit back in so perfectly, it is as if they are declaring, “this is our home.” Museum Director Emilie Gordenker says, “The building is one of the most notable surviving examples of seventeenth-century architecture in the Netherlands, which provides an impressive setting for the paintings.” After two years, this small and lovely pearl of a museum is once again radiating new light.

The June 27 reopening of the museum can be seen on Youtube. Following a humorous presentation of the trip around the world of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring during the museum’s restoration period, there are some glimpses of the museum interiors.

Mauritshuis Museum
Plein 29
2511CS, Den Haag
The Netherlands
Opening times:
Mon:10:00-18:00(Until 1 November 2014)