Museum Haarlem

A Visit to the Museum Haarlem

Located in the southern area of the city centre, the Museum Haarlem welcomes its visitors. It may not be as famous as the neighbouring Frans Hals Museum but it surely has its charms and a good mixture of permanent and temporary expositions.


An animated aeroplane illustrates the beginning of aviation in Haarlem. © Christoph Paulik

The museum depicts the history of the city, sprinkled with historic artefacts from all centuries. It is best to start your tour with the permanent exhibition on the first floor. A short movie gives a quick overview of Haarlems’ eventful past, from the first settlements until today. Wind machines, light effects and mechanically animated model planes add to the story and to the museums’ character. The museum staff will start the movie at your request.


Haarlemmers seem to love their nickname: Mosquitoes, muggen in Dutch, of different sizes, illustrate the number of inhabitants. Although the exact origins of this nickname are unclear, the museum offers some explanations. You have to go there to find out. © Christoph Paulik

Not only the items on display, also the museum building itself have an interesting backstory. In the old days, the museum used to be a hospital, just outside the city walls of Haarlem. So it seems quite fitting that one of the temporary exhibitions looks at the history of healthcare. Naturally, this exhibition has its sinister moments. A full-body dress and mask used by plague doctors might be the most haunting piece of the exhibition.


Would you trust a doctor looking like this? © Christoph Paulik

The ground floor hosts two more temporary exhibitions. The first rooms are dedicated to Dutch painter Simon de Heer. Born in Beemster he moved to Bloemendaal which became an inspiration to his art. De Heer painted portraits on commission for wealthy citizens and could make a decent living off his art. De Heer’s soft, airy paintings are set in opposition to a more spooky display: The other temporary exhibition on the ground floor focuses on comics and graphic novels featuring zombies, ghosts and other creepy characters.


Simon de Heer is a talented and esteemed portrait painter. He paints many well-known people from the area and especially likes to portray children. © Christoph Paulik

If there is one down-side to the Haarlem Museum, it’s that some object descriptions are Dutch only. However, the temporary exhibitions are bilingual and there are some English description cards. So you can bring visitors from abroad or visit the Museum even if you haven’t mastered the Dutch language.


Model of Haarlem. © Christoph Paulik

The Museum Haarlem opens Monday and Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm, Tuesday and Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm.

You can see the temporary exhibition on 500 years of healthcare until August 31, the exhibition on Simon de Heer until January 7 next year and the one on comics strips until August 27.


Contemporary and classic zombie tales will finish off your visit. © Christoph Paulik


Karin Brötzner
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