Haarlem is one of those lovely Dutch towns with a rich history, plenty historical buildings, and only a short train journey from Amsterdam Central Station. It is well worth a visit and of course, is one of the towns situated in the Dutch bulb region.
This time, I was not going on a historic walk following in the footsteps of Dutch national heroine Kenau Hasselaer. I was not going to visit the bulb region and Haarlem’s Frans Hals Museum, with its interesting temporary bulb flower display. I was going to visit one of two temporary exhibitions on Dutch 19th century watercolours.
In fact, I was joining a curator’s lecture about Dutch watercolours at the beautiful and fascinating Teylers’ museum. This is one of the oldest Dutch museums. Its permanent exhibition contains a variety of fossils, precious stones, various scientific machines, as well as paintings.
The lecture took place in the Teyler’s beautiful old lecture room. This is usually closed to the ordinary visitor. One needs to join lectures or guided museum tours to get a glimpse of it.
The lecture, delivered by one of the curators from the Amsterdam Vincent van Gogh Museum, introduced us to the fascinating world of Dutch watercolours, a few of its 19th century collectors, and two temporary exhibitions.
One of the exhibitions of Dutch watercolours is on show in The Hague and focuses on collectors and collections. The watercolour exhibition at the Teylers’ focuses on development, subject matters, artists. So the two exhibitions complement each other and run till the end of May – beginning of June 2015. Both exhibitions are discussed in one catalogue, which also describes all the watercolours of both exhibitions and can be bought at both museums.
This Teyler’s exhibition contains quite a few beautiful works. Many of the exhibits resemble oil painting, but are far more impressive. Contrary to working with oils, the watercolour technique makes it extremely difficult if not impossible, to correct mistakes.
Of course, a visit to this museum with its other temporary and permanent exhibitions, can easily fill more than your morning or afternoon. Admiring the watercolours took me over two hours. But Haarlem has much more to offer.
The town has many museums, you can take walks through its historic centre, there are several “hofjes” which can be visited during the week, shopaholics will find streets full of ordinary and chain shops as well as boutiques and antiques dealers. Cafés and restaurants line the old market square as well as many streets. The world-famous “Keukenhof” lies nearby and can be visited by bus.