Following a 22 million euro renovation and expansion project, the Mauritshuis Museum (Maurice House) in the Hague is once again open to visitors.
Its most iconic piece, Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, is back home after a two-year world tour that drew record crowds in Japan, Italy and the United States.
Emilie Gordenker, the museum’s director said the painting became a kind of advert for the museum.
“The ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, which is increasingly called ‘The Mona Lisa of the North’, really is the icon of the Mauritshuis, there’s no denying it. She’s world famous. She was a great ambassador during the world tour,” she said. “But what we notice is people may come to see the girl, but they stay for the rest.”
Other famous works from The Netherlands’ 17th-century Golden Age have retaken their places at the Mauritshuis.
Director Emilie Gordenker said sending part of the collection on the road during the renovation work was a calculated gamble.
In 2012, the Tokyo showing was the most-visited exhibition in the world, drawing more than 10,000 people per day.
The museum boasts one of the best collections of Dutch Golden Age paintings. Before it closed for renovation in 2012, it attracted around 230,000 visitors a year.
“There’s something about Dutch paintings of the Golden Age that is very accessible,” said Gordener. “They are not huge, they represent stories and things that are still very relevant today. So in a way, you look through the lens of history, but you recognise yourself and your surroundings and the things that you are going through in those paintings. So it’s really a fascinating experience.”
Originally constructed in the 17th century as a private residence, the Mauritshuis Museum has been painstakingly renovated.
The entrance has been moved to the front of the building, and there is a new educational space, a library, an auditorium, a café and a museum shop.