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One of the gems of the Hague has to be the Mauritshuis. This Hague art museum is one of my favorite museums in the Netherlands. As a Hague resident, these are my tips for visiting the Mauritshuis for the first time with some notes about the exhibitions not to miss along with some tips to avoid the crowds at the Mauritshuis.
The Mauritshuis is one of the main Dutch art museums, which holds an enviable collection of Dutch Old Masters. Within this beautiful building, which was built as the palace for Johan Maurits, you can view some of the most famous paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, including the Goldfinch and the Girl with the Pearl Earring. The exhibitions change regularly, but the museum has a great collection of Rembrandt paintings (especially during spring/summer 2019) due to a special exhibition!
The Maurithuis included within the Museumkaart (a program for Dutch residents) and the Holland Pass, a pass for tourists that includes numerous famous museums around Holland. With entry to the Mauritshuis, you’ll also get access to the Prince William V Gallery within the center of the Hague. Tickets are a bit pricey, but it’s well worth a visit if you’re an art lover. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours here just browsing its thoughtful collection before taking a stroll through the Hague.
I’d say that the museum isn’t overly child-friendly, but older children might appreciate the museum a bit more. They sometimes have child-friendly programs, but you’ll need to check their calendar for more information. As a note, it is accessible for those with disabilities with elevators available for usage.
Tips for your first visit to the Mauritshuis
Getting to the Mauritshuis
If you’re visiting the Hague for the first time, you can follow my guide on how to take the train from Amsterdam to the Hague. It’s super easy! From here, it’s a fifteen-minute walk to the Mauritshuis although you can definitely take a taxi if you have difficulty doing so. The route is very flat, making it easily accessible for those in wheelchairs!
I recommend following the signs towards Centrum although you’ll want to turn off close to Plein, which has an antique market on Thursdays part of the year. From here, you’ll see the Mauritshuis. The entrance is via the staircase/elevator on the left side. After your visit, be sure to walk through the Binnenhof prior to getting lunch in the Hague’s center!
How to avoid the crowds at the Mauritshuis
Thursday nights are a great time to enjoy the Mauritshuis without the crowds on the weekend as the museum is open until 8 pm. Monday is also a quiet time to visit although you’ll find more substantial crowds on the weekends. Still, the crowds aren’t on the level of some other Dutch tourist attractions, such as Rijksmuseum. That said, you might need to wait a few minutes to view Vermeer’s
Avoid bringing in a backpack or larger items
The Mauritshuis has a free coat check that you can use to check bags as well as larger items. You’re not allowed to bring them in and they’re a bit of a nuisance since some of the doorways/rooms are smaller. I chose to check my bag as it made it much easier to go around the museum.
Avoid cameras that may use flash
This is a big one! I brought my DSLR, which was fine, but the lighting in the Mauritshuis can be a bit dark. I find the colors can be less than ideal, but most of the paintings are available for download on their website if you want a better photo (rather than trying to take it yourself). Phones will struggle with the lighting within the museum as a word of warning, but you can get nice postcards and other reasonable souvenirs within the giftshop!
If you really want to take photos, ensure that your flash is off 100% as it can damage the paintings. My camera has a small bit of lighting to help it focus in darker settings and although it’s not flash, the guards followed me for a bit to check that I wasn’t using Flash.
Download their app to learn more about the paintings and bring headphones to save money!
Although there’s free and fast Wi-Fi within the Mauritshuis, you can listen to information about the paintings by downloading the Mauritshuis app. It’s available in the App stores for free, so bring a pair of headphones with you for your phone. (You can also rent an audio guide for 3.50 if you forget.)
Learn about the roots of the Mauritshuis
Recently, the museum has started more critically evaluating its roots in a new exhibition, which is slightly hidden on the level above the cafe beyond the main collection. This new collection critically examines the role of Johan Maurits, who was governor of the Dutch colony of Brazil at a time when slavery was legal. Although his personal history has often been white-washed, the new exhibition investigates the circumstances of his role as governor, the Dutch role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and discusses findings by historians/art historians on how we differently look at art today.
It was refreshing to have a museum reflect on its work, which includes outdated ideas as African helpers simply as motifs. Historians are currently looking further into this topic and they will be sharing the findings as the research project progresses. I really enjoyed the modern sculpture of the Mauritshuis built in sugar cubes, a symbol of slavery at the time.