Located in The Hauge, Netherlands, the Mauritshuis is a national art museum housed within the historic home of Johan Maurits, showcasing pieces held in the country’s Royal Cabinet of Paintings.
The Mauritshuis was originally constructed as a personal residence for Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen, who was appointed as governor of the Dutch West India Company’s Brazilian colony in 1636. While in Brazil, Maurits oversaw the enslavement of more than 23,500 African citizens to work on colonial sugar cane plantations. The construction of the Mauritshuis was completed during Maurits’ time in Brazil and was derisively referred to as the “Sugar Palace” due to the origins of Maurits’ income. It was designed by architects Jacob van Campen and Pieter Post and modeled after the Dutch Classicist style, featuring elements such as columns, cornices, and pediments.
Following Maurits’ death, the home was used as a guest house for the States General, but in 1704, it burned to the ground as a result of a fire caused by negligence. Between 1708 and 1718, the building was reconstructed according to its original design and decorated in a modern Louis XIV style. In 1822, the building was remodeled for use as the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery museum, housing the artistic collections of stadtholder Prince William V. The collection has been owned by the Dutch government since 1816 and showcases a large variety of historic portraits and classical art works. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the facility was renovated several times, including a major renovation project between 2012 and 2014 that connected the museum with the nearby Sociëteit De Witte via an underground foyer.
Permanent Exhibits and Collections
Today, the Mauritshuis is located within The Hauge’s city center next to its government center and is owned by the government of the Netherlands, though it has been privately operated since 1995. It has been named one of the Top 100 Dutch Heritage Sites by the country’s Department of Conservation and showcases the state-sponsored Royal Cabinet of Paintings collection. As the 13th most-visited museum in the Netherlands, the museum receives between 200,000 and 260,000 visitors per year.
The permanent collection of the Royal Cabinet of Paintings consists of 841 works of art, including approximately 200 pieces that are retained as part of the museum’s permanent collection. Pieces within the collection focus on the works of the Dutch Golden Age and highlight artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen, and Jacob van Ruisdael. Major works highlighted within the collection include Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, Fabritius’ The Goldfinch, and Potter’s The Bull. Recently-acquired works include pieces by Ludger tom Ring and Roelant Savery. Approximately 150 additional works from the collection are displayed nearby at the Prince William V Gallery, and the majority of the collection may be viewed online in high resolution on the museum’s website catalogue.
In addition to the museum’s permanent collections, a variety of rotating temporary exhibits are showcased in the Royal Dutch Shell Wing, which is connected to the main Mauritshuis building via underground foyer. Past temporary exhibits on display have included Rogier van der Weyden Unveiled, which focused on the artist’s Lamentation of Christ painting, the oldest piece held within the Royal Cabinet of Paintings collection. A museum Brasserie is offered within the wing, serving traditional Dutch dishes inspired by the culture of the Golden Age along with a variety of coffee shop beverages. A gift shop sells a variety of art-related books, multimedia items, and souvenirs. The Art Deco-style structure also houses the museum’s educational Art Workshop, along with an auditorium, library, and conference rooms available for rental.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to standard visitor admission, the Mauritshuis offers guided tours for small groups and organizations with up to 15 tour participants, including curriculum-incorporated field trips for primary and secondary school students. Tours must be requested at least two weeks prior to desired tour date and are offered throughout the morning and afternoon hours. Tours are presented in Dutch, English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Norwegian, and Russian and last approximately 60 minutes. Several guided tour options are available, including a collection highlights tour that offers information on the museum’s most famous works of art and the historical context of their creation. Custom museum tours may be created upon request to meet individual groups’ needs. Tours of the Prince William V Gallery are also available upon request, and a self-guided tour app may be downloaded by visitors who wish to explore the museum on their own. A variety of public special events are offered at the museum, including daily art talks and periodic public lectures in the museum’s gallery, group workshop tours for people with Alzheimer’s disease, and team-building business training courses.
Plein 29, 2511 CS Den Haag, Netherlands, Phone: +31-7-03-02-34-56