Museum De Lakenhal is moving into the future! The programme of restoration and expansion is now well under way and the museum is expected to reopen its doors to the public in the spring of 2019. On this page you can read all about the ideas behind the restoration and expansion of Museum De Lakenhal: you can see the plans envisaged by the architect, consider the concepts underpinning the new building on Lammermarkt, view the visuals for the modernised museum and find out all there is to know about the various parties involved in this grand project.
What is the current status?
In March 2018 builders installed the uppermost element on Museum De Lakenhal’s new building. This momentous event was celebrated in a topping-out ceremony at which Museum Directeur Meta Knol and Alderman Robert Strijk unveiled an ode to Museum De Lakenhal on a huge scaffolding tarpaulin. The poem, ‘Laken’, was written by Leiden’s former official city poet, Wouter Ydema.
The museum closed in October 2016 and its contents were then removed before the building contractor started work in January 2017. Top pieces from Museum De Lakenhal’s collection are currently on display in other museums, such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar and Museum Het Rembrandthuis.
Museum De Lakenhal is expected to reopen its doors to the public in spring 2019. From the festive reopening the old ‘Laecken-Halle’ will accommodate the museum’s permanent collection, featuring renowned masterpieces such as The Last Judgement (c. 1526/27) by Lucas van Leyden, A Pedlar Selling Spectacles (Allegory of Sight) (c. 1624) by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn and Contra-Composition VII (1924) by Theo van Doesburg. The newly built exhibition galleries will house a special presentation about the museum’s restoration and expansion, featuring photos by Karin Borghouts and Marjan Teeuwen. And from November 2019 Museum De Lakenhal will use these brand-new galleries to present the exhibition Young Rembrandt (in collaboration with the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, with early works by this famous son of Leiden, including many loans from international museums. Interested in the latest developments? You can view the timeline, image bank, press releases and various downloads here:informative overview Press releases
TRACES OF EARLIER TIMES
Since 1874 Museum De Lakenhal has been housed in a magnificent, historical building: the palatial 'Laecken-Halle' (Cloth Hall), built in 1640 by the renowned architect Arent van ’s-Gravesande. One of the finest Dutch buildings from the Golden Age, the Laecken-Halle served for centuries as a trading and inspection hall for cloth merchants, whose woollen fabrics were exported from Leiden all over the world. The building’s original facade is still entirely intact, although its interior has changed a great deal over the course of time.
- In 1869 municipal architect J.W. Schaap started work on remodelling the building as a municipal museum.
- In 1890 the Hartezaal, a new gallery with fine natural top lighting, was added to the museum.
- In 1921 construction of the Papevleugel (Pape Wing) doubled the museum’s size.
These activities thus created a palette of building units from varying periods. The starting point for the restoration was to achieve a balance between these time layers by applying the principle of ‘unity in diversity’. Once work has been completed, a central inner courtyard, the Achterplaats, will afford a view of and access to the four building units comprising the museum’s complex. During the modernisation process, traces of almost 375 years of construction history are being showcased rather than erased. These will give each building unit - the seventeenth-century cloth hall, the nineteenth-century art galleries, the twentieth-century Papevleugel and the new, twenty-first-century exhibition galleries – its own individual character. This differentiation will advance and reinforce the complex’s varying functions.
Want to know more about the building’s history? Read the story of the history of the ‘Laecken-Halle’
VISITING THE MUSEUM
So, what can you expect when you visit Museum De Lakenhal in the future? The old ‘Laecken-Halle’ or Cloth Hall on the Oude Singel will continue to function as the museum’s entrance. On entering the front gate, you will find yourself in the historical forecourt with its open galleries and magnificent view of the building’s monumental seventeenth-century facade that has now been completely restored to its former glory. In fine weather this lovely forecourt will also serve as the terrace for the new museum café. Behind the ancient front door is the entrance area where you can buy a ticket and visit the refurbished museum shop. A unique feature of this shop is that it sells Nieuw Leids Laken (New Leiden Cloth) by the metre, alongside other artisanal fabric products.
Every visit to the museum begins in the central orientation area, the inner courtyard known as the Achterplaats. From here you can choose to tour the new exhibition wing or pay a visit to the permanent collection, where all the museum’s favourites and highlights are on display: The Last Judgement by Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt’s A Pedlar Selling Spectacles (Allegory of Sight), Flowers and Leaves by Floris Verster and Theo van Doesburg’s abstract paintings. You may be fortunate to find a special activity taking place: a guided tour of the collection, a lecture by the curator in the auditorium or a drawing workshop in the studio.
“[...] Proud of our history, of the beauty of our city. Museum De Lakenhal is filled with our own history, which is why it is enormously important. Today we also see our future. For this design literally and figuratively gives our museum room to grow. And I know for certain that even more people will come to our city for our knowledge, our culture and our Lakenhal.”
Alderman Robert Strijk
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Restoration work is focusing on the seventeenth-century 'Laecken-Halle' and the courtyard known as the Achterplaats. The project’s architects have undertaken to restore the noble simplicity of this majestic cloth hall to its former splendour and increase the visibility of the building’s original H-shaped floorplan. Reinstating the central inner courtyard, the Achterplaats, will create an open orientation space from which there will be access to the museum’s individual units: the new exhibition wing and the Laecken-Halle and Papevleugel, housing the permanent collection.
Museum Director Meta Knol wrote the Restoration Vision Statement, outlining essentials such as the starting point for the programme of restoration (in Dutch):
PERMANENT FIXTURES IN THE BUILDING
Since the opening of the museum in 1874, many interior elements have become permanent fixtures in the building. Known as the structural and nailed-down collection, these elements are of great historical value and thus feature significantly in the restoration project. Read more in the museum blog (Dutch only), in the interview with Prosper de Jong, curator of Applied Arts:blog
SPECIAL FOCUS: THE JORISTRAP
During the nineteenth century, a monumental staircase, the Joristrap (George Stairs) was added to the interior. This staircase forms a coherent ensemble with the sixteenth-century ‘Gravenramen’ (stained-glass windows depicting the counts and countesses of Holland) and is a valuable element in the museum’s architecture. The decision has been taken to move the Joristrap, to ensure that the reinstated Achterplaats is as open as possible in character. While retaining the original interior, the ensemble of staircase and windows is to be relocated from the north side to the west side of the building, where it will continue to connect the first and second floors. This placement will also allow all twelve ‘Gravenramen’ to be displayed together in a panorama of natural daylight.
Download the documents below for more information (Dutch only):2 FEBRUARY 2016: PRESS RELEASE BY THE CHIEF GOVERNMENT ARCHITECT 25 January 2016: RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING RELOCATION OF THE JORISTRAP BY THE CHIEF GOVERNMENT ARCHITECT 12 November 2015: MEMORANDUM ON THE JORISTRAP 12 November 2015: PRESS RELEASE BY THE CHIEF GOVERNMENT ARCHITECT
NEW BUILDING EXPANSION
Museum De Lakenhal’s new building is being constructed to the rear of the ‘Laecken-Halle’, with a front facade on the Lammermarkt. This new edifice will add a total area of 2500 square metres to the museum, 450 square metres of which will be exhibition space. The design for this new wing is a contemporary interpretation of the existing museum complex’s brick-based architecture. Its form and scale are inspired by existing premises in this part of the city, where tall buildings and low-rise structures have stood neighbourly side by side for centuries.
With this design Museum De Lakenhal can move into the future. It connects past and present in an intelligent manner, with a contemporary and idiosyncratic result that is an outstanding match for the museum excellently.
Meta Knol, director Museum De Lakenhal
PLENTY OF SPACE FOR THE PUBLIC
The programme of restoration and expansion will considerably improve public facilities at Museum De Lakenhal. There will be an attractive new entrance area in the vestibule of the 'Laecken-Halle', a proper café and a museum shop with an original range of merchandise. Lectures and other events will be held in the new auditorium (120 seats). Young and old will come together in the Studio for workshops, school visits and family activities. All these facilities will be located on the ground floor of the building.
THE PROJECT TEAM
The starting signal for the restoration and expansion of Museum De Lakenhal was given in 2009, with the city council decision ‘Lakenhal op Orde’. Since that time, the museum and the municipality have been working together to realize the project. More information and documents can be found on the website of the Municipality of Leiden, including the decisions and the destination plans for the Lammermarkt, (Dutch only):More information via GEMEENTE LEIDEN (in Dutch)
Leiden currently boasts the title of ’City of Discoveries’ and Museum De Lakenhal is one of the city jewels that are more than worth discovering. And the city wants the museum to become an even greater attraction. Museum De Lakenhal certainly has more than enough to display and its staff have more than enough vitality and creativity to compile tremendous exhibitions. Only the quality and size of the building can no longer accommodate this ambition. Which is why the city has decided, despite the financial difficulties that Leiden is also facing, to provide financing for the museum’s restoration and expansion. I hope with all my heart that other parties will follow our example and thereby prepare this terrific museum for the future.
Mayor Henri Lenferink
THE ARCHITECTURAL TEAM
The combination of restoration and expansion requires a varied team of architects. The renowned London-based practice Julian Harrap Architects (JHA) is responsible for the restoration work, while the young and talented Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven (HCV) agency of Rotterdam undertook the expansion.Architects' statement (in Dutch)
JULIAN HARRAP ARCHITECTS, LONDON
Julian Harrap Architects (JHA) are one of the top international practices in the field of restoration. Practice representative for this project is Robert Sandford. JHA have previously been responsible for the execution of such projects as the restoration of the Sir John Soane's Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. In 2011 they received the Mies van der Rohe Award for their collaboration with architect David Chipperfield on the restoration of the Neues Museum in Berlin.
Read more in the interview published on the museum blog:blog (in Dutch)
The old 'Laecken-Halle' had a specific function as a cloth hall and in that sense it was primarily a functional building. The exterior has the appearance of a city palace, while the interior is conspicuously sober and of a ‘noble simplicity’. Over the centuries it has been subject to various restoration works and drastic remodelling. It is high time for a reinterpretation of this building history. It is our endeavour to choose a selection of elements that best represent the building’s original mood and experience and to give these an extra appeal
Julian Harrap Architects
HAPPEL CORNELISSE VERHOEVEN, ROTTERDAM
Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven Architecten (HCVA) are led by Ninke Happel, Floris Cornelisse and Paul Verhoeven. This promising trio employs artisanal and sustainable principles in the design of new buildings that connect with their urban or rural environment in a natural and contemporary fashion. HCVA won the 2013 ARC Award for their design for the interior of the Noord-Hollands Archive. In the same year they were also nominated as Architects of the Year.
TEAM OF SPECIALISTS
The architects are supported by a team of specialists with a wealth of experience in fields such as structural physics, electrotechnical and mechanical installations, security, building costs and construction in museums.
COSTS AND BENEFACTORS
In 2014 Leiden City Council approved the Implementation Order for Museum De Lakenhal’s restoration and expansion and allocated 16.6 million euros for the construction work. The museum set itself the task of raising the remaining funds required. Thanks to a successful campaign, Museum De Lakenhal has now secured more than three million euros in additional funding, whose sources include private donations, an impulse contribution of one million euros by the BankGiro Lottery, the sum of €790,000 from the Province of Zuid-Holland and contributions by the Lucas van Leyden Mecenaat, a highly successful network of supportive local citizens and businesses. Other contributions have been made by the American Friends of Museum De Lakenhal, Dutch private and government funds, sponsorship and other donations.MORE ABOUT THE Mecenaat MORE ABOUT our AMERICAN FRIENDS
It is fortunate that over the centuries citizens have wished to play an important role in the conservation and development or redevelopment of what they perceive as valuable in their environment. For it tends to be their city, town or village in which they principally express their cultural and social engagement, despite today’s world being larger (and faster) than the age in which Leiden’s Cloth Hall flourished. Future generations have a right to continue to learn from and enjoy what has been passed on to us as precious heritage. Which is why the Lucas van Leyden Mecenaat is eager to make its own small contribution to the restoration and expansion of Museum De Lakenhal.
Elco Brinkman, Chair Lucas van Leyden Patronage
RESTORATION & EXPANSION IN 'LEVEN! MAGAZINE'
In the series 'Museum De Lakenhal vernieuwt' (Modernising Museum De Lakenhal), 'LEVEN! Magazine' and Museum De Lakenhal explain the processes involved in the museum’s programme of restoration and expansion. Why did the architects opt for a light brick? What does the term 'noble simplicity’ mean? And what how will this project benefit the city of Leiden?View the series of articles in 'Leven! Magazine'
DESTROYED HOUSE LEIDEN
In the summer of 2015 artist Marjan Teeuwen was commissioned by Museum De Lakenhal to transform four buildings scheduled for demolition on the Lammermarkt into a monumental installation. This paid temporary but grandiose tribute to these historical edifices. Photos of this installation have been added to the museum’s collection and will be displayed, after Museum De Lakenhal reopens, in the new exhibition wing, on the site where these small buildings once stood.MORE ABOUT DESTROYED HOUSE
THE LEIDEN PUZZLE
From 2014 the PS| Theater Company has created ‘The Leiden Puzzle’, comprising theatrical portraits of key figures in and around Lammermarkt square. Among the buildings featured in these are Museum De Lakenhal, alongside Mabroek Greengrocer’s and Butcher’s Shop and De Nobel ‘pop temple’.
DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT: CULTURAL QUARTER
From 2019 the facade of Museum De Lakenhal’s new building will adjoin the Lammermarkt. Once the underground carpark has been completed, this public space will be fitted out as a vibrant cultural hub. It is also a green oasis that forms part of the Singelpark, the longest urban park in the Netherlands. The museum is centrally located in Leiden’s Cultural Quarter: the district that stretches from Molen De Valk to Museum Boerhaave, encompassing the Scheltema cultural centre, De Veenfabriek music theatre, De Nobel music centre, the Leidse Schouwburg, the Kijkhuis cinema and Theater Imperium. While the historical 'Laecken-Halle' looks out over the ‘old city’, Museum De Lakenhal’s new building will become the face of the ‘young city’.