My expat readers’ group had read Donna Tartt’s “Goldfinch”. Guess I was the only one not to like the book, but a few members were interested in looking at the painting. Other friends were in a hurry to visit the reopened museum, despite hype and long queues. Not me: friends from my museum network had attended the grand opening and were not impressed. They warned me not to expect too much and to wait till the hype died down.
For the house itself and its collection of mostly Dutch masters have not changed. What has changed is for instance the museum entrance. This used to be at the side, but has been relocated to the front. You go through the gate and either down a flight of stairs, or take an elevator. Once downstairs, you find yourselves in a large and light hall. It contains ticket boots, information desks, cloak room, lockers (2 Euro coin needed), museum shop, toilets, and access either to the house itself or to the museum’s new wing.
This new wing can be reached by going up the flight of stairs next to the museum shop. This wing has space for temporary exhibitions, workshops, and more. The museum café, or “Brasserie” is also located there and should be an improvement on the former “coffee bar” in the cellars. However, as The Hague’s “Plein” (square) is right next to the Mauritshuis Museum, you will find plenty decent and affordable café’s and restaurants nearby.
The other flight of stairs leads up into the Mauritshuis itself. Fortunately there is another elevator. You end up in the grand hall and see the formal reception room with its lovely views across the “Hofvijver”. Visitors would have entered through the large main gate and front door, into the hall with beautifully carved and stuccoed staircases to walk straight on into this beautiful room with painted ceiling and interesting sconces.
A stroll through the rooms on the various floors of what was the townhouse of count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, gives an excellent impression of not only Dutch grand masters. The collection also consists of paintings by for instance Holbein, Breugel, Rubens, van Dijk, and others. I love Holbein’s small portrait of Jane Seymour, as well as his imposing portrait of Robertus Cheseman. Other favourites include portraits by Rubens and van Dijck, which make me visit this museum again and again.
There are plenty other paintings which just ask you to admire and linger. Another favourite is the series of paintings by Troost in Hogarth style. But most people of course come for the Rembrandts and Vermeers. Unfortunately, this means there is nearly always a group in front of them.
In fact, the only thing which truly marred our visit this time, were the guides and groups. We started our visit at 10:15 (the museum opens at 10:00), but the guided tours were already ensuring it was difficult to have a good look at many paintings. In one of the rooms, a French-speaking guide actually ordered us to move out of his way – and his group. Unfortunately enough for him, one of my friends and I speak French and refused to budge. Who the hell did “Napoleon” think he was? He stopped just short of manhandling us.
So if you visit, be prepared to have to deal with this kind of outrageous behaviour, as well as to jostle with groups of over 20 people and individual visitors, in rooms of what is actually a house.
If you have not been saturated after a visit to this wonderful museum, you can see more! The museum Gallery Willem V, also along the Hofvijver, shows even more paintings from the large Mauritshuis collection. You can buy a combination ticket.
Personally, I think a Dutch Museum Card is still the best value for money. It is valid for a year and costs about 55 Euro. The ordinary entrance fee for the Mauritshuis is 14 Euro. With this Museum Kaart, you have free access to this and over 300 other museums, including the Rijksmuseum and Vincent van Gogh, and can visit the museums as often as you like during the period your card is valid. Nearly all museums have a website with ticket information, so you should be able to work out what is your best deal.