Place
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
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Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

Stadhouderslaan 41
Den Haag
Netherlands

Media Editor

The Hague’s municipal museum is a work of art on its own.

That might be my personal opinion, but I’d take Art Deco over Neoclassicism anytime. You might know the Hague because of it’s most famous inhabitant, The Girl with a Pearl Earring. But besides Vermeer at the Mauritshuis, the city is also home to some van Goghs and a buttload (300!) of Mondrians. These other two famous Dutch dudes can be found at the Gemeentemuseum, the city’s go-to place for modern art. 

When H.E. van Gelder became director of the museum in 1912, he already dreamed of building a new museum. Van Gelder and his friend H.P. Berlage were both convinced of art’s ability to elevate people, so his dream building should avoid any impression of elitist BS. They dreamed of a "cultural temple for the common man”, which still sounds kinda elitist if you ask me. But anyway, after WWI ended the city approved their plan, and the new museum opened in 1935. Unfortunately, Berlage died a year before the building was completed, so his son-in-law was the one to finish the project. Visitors were only able to enjoy the new building for a few years. Occupying German soldiers used the museum as a repository during WWII and they didn’t treat it gently. After the war, the building was repaired and opened it’s doors again in 1946. 

Berlage once predicted the museum could be his best work ever, and decades later everyone still loves it so I guess he was right! Besides the very unconventional long glass walkway, designed to gradually distance yourself from the outside world, the museum has a ton of cool features and materials. Its doors and doorframes are made out of bronze, the reception area is paved with marble and you'll find beautiful ceramic tiles everywhere. But what makes the museum truly unique is its floor plan. Berlage wanted to prevent "museum fatigue", so doorways are never directly positioned opposite each other and there's no clear route through the museum. I guarantee you'll get lost, but with a collection as awesome as the Gemeentemuseum, no one really minds!