Museum de Lakenhal
Museum de Lakenhal
Discover more than 400 years of art and history in Leiden’s municipal museum.
Museum de Lakenhal is one of the city of Leiden’s cultural treasures. This municipal museum is situated in a monumental building in the old city centre. During the Dutch Golden Age it was the centre of Leiden’s booming textile trade and while its stunning original façade remains intact, the interior of the building has been transformed over the centuries. From late 2016 until mid-2018 the museum will be closed for restoration and expansion. However, it plays a key role in celebrating 100 years of the De Stijl art movement in 2017 by hosting an impressive open-air exhibition in Leiden.
- Discover more than 400 years of Dutch history at Leiden’s spectacular municipal museum.
- Find out about Museum de Lakenhal’s open air-exhibition in 2017, part of the celebrations for 100 years of the De Stijl art movement.
- The museum will be closed for refurbishment and expansion from late 2016 until mid-2018.
Art & history in Museum de Lakenhal
Museum de Lakenhal invites you to indulge yourself in some 400 years of Dutch art and history through more than 23,000 objects – particularly showcasing the picturesque city of Leiden itself. You can also browse a stunning collection of artworks ranging from Rembrandt van Rijn and his fellow Dutch Masters, to 20th century artist Theo van Doesburg – one of the key instigators of the De Stijl art movement alongside Piet Mondrian – and contemporary artists like acclaimed Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf. As well as creating groundbreaking art of international renown, the works within De Lakenhal’s collection each reflect snapshots of Dutch culture and history.
An iconic Leiden building
Before stepping through its entrance, pause for breath outside Museum de Lakenhal and take in the exquisite details of this historic Leiden monument. The building dates from 1640, after Leiden’s city council had commissioned city architect Arent van ‘s-Gravesande to build an inspection hall for woollen cloth. During the Dutch Golden Age, Leiden was internationally renowned for the quality of cloth produced there, and the same high standards were expected of the new hall. The architect’s resulting Classicist design took the name the Laecken-Halle, or simply Cloth Hall in English.
The building held onto its function as an inspection hall until 1820 before briefly being utilised as a cholera hospital. Throughout the following 50 years it hosted exhibitions and became a repository for important archaeological and artistic treasures, before finally being transformed into Leiden’s official municipal museum in 1872 – taking the name Museum de Lakenhal. While the exterior of the building remains impressively true to its Golden Age Classicist design, subsequent redevelopments and expansions have had a major impact upon its interiors over the centuries.
Between 2014 and 2018, Museum de Lakenhal is undergoing restoration and expansion work, including a new exhibition wing. This includes a period from late 2016 until mid-2018 when the museum will be closed to the public. As well as creating more space and improving public facilities, the restoration aims to harmonise the varying architectural styles found throughout the interior. This will result in four distinct areas within the museum, each reflecting the building’s history, from the 17th century through to the 21st century.
Museum de Lakenhal’s collection
As municipal museum for the city of Leiden, Museum de Lakenhal’s collection totals around 23,000 objects, including paintings, silver, glass, furniture, photographs, sculptures, pewter and ceramics. Major artists represented within the collection include Rembrandt, Lucas van Leyden, Jan Wolkers, Jan Steen, Theo van Doesburg and Erwin Olaf. The museum also frequently hosts temporary exhibitions on varying themes.
In summer 2017, discover the birthplace of De Stijl by visiting the exhibition 'Open Air Museum De Lakenhal. 100 Years after De Stijl'. This celebrates the centenary of the De Stijl art movement, which Theo van Doesburg initiated in Leiden in 1917. See works by contemporary artists and a prototype of the stunning 'Maison d’Artiste', an elaborate cubist artists' house designed by Van Doesburg and architect Cor van Eesteren in 1923.
Explore the region
Leiden is a beautiful old city that’s home to a young and vibrant population of students. Discover the secrets of Leiden that should be a must-see during your visit. Less than 30 minutes away by train or car, The Hague has lots to offer, from monuments and museums to seaside resorts. Don’t miss the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, which is the international home of the De Stijl art movement, showcasing some 300 works by Piet Mondrian.
See the best of The Hague! Rent a bike and discover the Dutch Royal Family via a special cycling route. In and around the city there are numerous castles, palaces and estates that each have a royal story to tell.