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.
- Discover more than 400 years of Dutch history at Leiden’s spectacular municipal museum.
- Top works by Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt, Theo van Doesburg, and Erwin Olaf.
- Find inspiration in different architectural styles and contemporary interpretations.
Art & history in Museum de Lakenhal
Museum De Lakenhal is the museum for art, craft and history in the city of Leiden. The collection highlights include works by old masters like Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Jan Steen, as well as modern artists like Theo van Doesburg, Jan Wolkers, and Erwin Olaf. Museum De Lakenhal creates high end exhibitions of (inter)national interest using sources from Leiden. The museum presents itself as an innovative networking museum that connects past and present by inspiring visitors with old and new perspectives.
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.
The museum reopened its doors to the public in June 2019 after years of renovation work. With the impressive brick patterns in its facade, the new structure at the back is a real eye-catcher. The front entrance leads to the central courtyard, the glass-covered Achterhal. Here, the museum shop sells artisanal Nieuw Leids Laken (New Leiden Cloth). With the renovation and extension of the museum, De Lakenhal has definitely become one of the city’s gems.
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.
Rembrandt & The Golden Age
In 2019, 350 years after Rembrandt van Rijn died, Museum De Lakenhal is commemorating Rembrandt with the fantastic exhibition Young Rembrandt. This retrospective exhibition specifically shows the early work of the painter, who was born in Leiden. Young Rembrandt can be visited from 3 November 2019 through 9 February 2020.
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.