ArtSmart Roundtable: Reopening of the Mauritshuis Museum, Netherlands, June 2014

Saturday, January 11th, 2014. Filed under: Art ArtSmart Roundtable Europe Netherlands

Detail, Girl with a pearl earring (c. 1665), Johannes Vermeer. Collection: Mauritshuis, The Hague, Netherlands. Image: Mauritshuis.

Hello 2014! The ArtSmart Roundtable–an art-savvy group of travel bloggers–launches a new season with a look at Art to See in 2014. Scroll to the end of this post for links to my colleagues’ posts.  l’ll be writing about one of the most-anticipated events of 2014’s culture calendar: the reopening of the Mauritshuis Museum, The Hague, Netherlands, on June 27, 2014.

BBC News calls it one of the top ten stories of 2014. I’m not surprised. Buzz has built to a crescendo this past year as superstars from the Mauritshuis collection–Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) by Johannes Vermeer and The Goldfinch (1654) by Carel Fabritius–have toured the world, drawing sell-out crowds.

Mauritshuis Museum The Hague

The Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, Netherlands, is an exquisite example of 17th Century Dutch Classicist architecture. Image:

I was privileged to be present at the unveiling of the new Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam last March, after a stunning ten-year renovation. The renovation of the Mauritshuis is equally important, if on a smaller scale. The Mauritshuis is one of the top small museums in the world, a beautiful example of Dutch Classicist architecture set on the lake in the heart of The Hague. Built for Count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen (governor of the Dutch colony in Brazil) between 1636 and 1644, the Mauritshuis was bought by the Dutch government in 1820 to house the Royal Collection of Paintings. The Mauritshuis has operated as a museum since 1822.

Girl With a Pearl Earring Vermeer

The second most famous female portrait in the world: Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665), oil on canvas, 44.5 x 39 cm, Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). Collection: Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image: Mauritshuis.

The 17th century building has been renovated and upgraded to meet the 21st century needs of both the artworks and visitors.  As at the Rijksmuseum, many of the Mauritshuis’s original features and color schemes have been restored.  Architects for the Mauritshuis project are the Amsterdam-based firm Hans van Heeswijk Architects. A  major feature of the project is a new Royal Dutch Shell Wing which will double the museum’s floor space and is linked to the historic building by a light-filled underground foyer. The new wing will house exhibition galleries, an education centre, cafe, shop and other facilities.

The renovation is an opportunity for a major re-presentation of icons of Dutch painting. Two of Vermeer‘s most beloved masterpieces, Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) and View of Delft (c. 1660-61), make the Mauritshuis the perfect starting point for the Vermeer Trail which traces key locations associated with the artist.

View of Delft (c. 1660-1661), oil on canvas, 96.5 x 115.7 cm, Johannes Vermeer. Collection: Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image: Mauritshuis.

Public fascination with Dutch art has skyrocketed in recent years with the publication of books inspired by specific paintings: Tracy Chevalier’s 2001 Girl with a Pearl Earring: A Novel (made into a movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth in 2003); and Donna Tartt’s 2013 acclaimed novel The Goldfinch.

The Goldfinch (1654), oil on panel, 33.5 x 22.8 cm, by Carel Fabritius (1622-1654). Collection: Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image: Mauritshuis.

More highlights of the Mauritshuis collection:

Anatomy Lesson Dr Tulp Rembrandt

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632), oil on canvas, 169.5 x 216.5 cm, Rembrandt (1606-1669). Collection: Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image: Mauritshuis.

On the Ice (c. 1610), oil on panel, 36 x 71 cm, by Hendrick Avercamp (1585-1634). Collection: Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image: Mauritshuis.

The Mauritshuis museum is located in The Hague, a historic city near the North Sea coast, home to the Dutch Parliament and Royal Family.

For  more on the Mauritshuis reopening and collection, see the Mauritshuis website.

And for more inspiration and information on visiting the Netherlands, see, official website of the NBTC.

For more on the Girl with a Pearl Earring‘s world tour, see this New York Times article.


The ArtSmart Roundtable is a group of informed and passionate bloggers on a mission to help you understand the art you encounter every day and in your travels.  Each month Roundtable members publish on a chosen topic. Catch us on Facebook and be sure to check out the rest of this month’s posts:

Erin – Five 2014 Shows Not to Be Missed in Boston

Christina – Threatened Venice

Ashley – Art to see in the USA in 2014

Jenna – Art Exhibitions to Catch in 2014

Murissa -Top 5 Museum Visits in 2014: From Vancouver to Venice

Alexandra – What art to see in Florence in 2014





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