For a small country, Holland packs a seriously big punch when it comes to art and culture. And the great thing is that because Holland is so wonderfully ‘gezellig’ – that’s Dutch for cosy – getting around from city to city to see each one’s main cultural attractions, even during a fairly short trip, is an absolute breeze. Its four main cities (The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Utrecht) are all situated within an area that’s around the same size as Greater London, and each one of them has its share of museums and galleries that will make any art lover weak at the knees.
For anyone who appreciates the arts, just hire a car or hop on a train and you can pack a whole lot into a few days in Holland – but to help you figure out where to go and what to see, we’ve put together a few of Holland’s highlights – cultural attractions that should not be missed!
Mauritshuis, The Hague: Right in the heart of The Hague, the Mauritshuis is a superb art museum, mostly displaying some of the best art from the Dutch Golden Age (which spanned most of the 17th Century). This collection is world-renowned; you’ll see masterpieces including Rembrandt’s ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp’, ‘The Goldfinch’ by Fabritius, and Potter’s ‘The Young Bull’, all of which are on permanent display at the museum.
But perhaps most famous of all, and enough of an attraction in itself to get people to the museum, this is where you can also see Vermeer’s infamous ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, made famous by the eponymous film starring Scarlett Johansson.
For more information visit www.mauritshuis.nl/en
NOORDBRABANTS MUSEUM, Den Bosch: Noordbrabants Museum in Den Bosch (‘s-Hertogenbosch) is a great place to start your tour. The Brabant area in the south of Holland has plenty to offer culture vultures, but Het Noordbrabants Museum is a particular must-see displaying the rich artistic and cultural history of Brabant from the past six centuries. If you want to discover some of Van Gogh’s earlier work, this is a great place to do it. You’ll see a totally different style of painting to the big, bold brushstrokes he’s so famous for today.
Another reason to make sure you get to Het Noordbrabants Museum; 2016 is also the year of Hieronymus Bosch, and there are events and exhibitions taking place throughout the year to pay tribute to him and mark the 500th anniversary of his death.
THE CONCERTGEBOUW (CONCERT HALL) – AMSTERDAM: Hosting more than 700 concerts and 700,000 visitors every year, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw is the ultimate destination for serious music lovers in Holland. It’s home to one of the world’s best orchestras; the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – but the concert hall offers a superb and varied programme that includes world-famous musicians, conductors and orchestras playing a brilliant range of musical genres.
Whether you’re a pop-lover or more about the jazz and classical stuff, you’ll find a concert here for you. The concert hall has been famous worldwide for its exceptional acoustics since its very first concert in 1888.
For tickets, visit www.concertgebouw.nl/en
ESCHER IN THE PALACE – THE HAGUE: M. C. Escher was a graphic artist and even if you are not so familiar with his name, you’re probably familiar with his work. Escher in the Palace is a fantastic museum in The Hague where you can see some of his best and most famous work, and it’s incredible to see up close.
‘Belvedere’, ‘Drawing Hands’, ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Ascending and Descending’ are just some of the works on display here, but in addition to seeing his art, you’ll get a brilliant insight into his process – how he made water flow upstream or changed fish into birds. You’ll see how Escher’s work developed, from depicting real life to his incredible fantasy worlds.
For more information visit www.escherinthepalace.com
GEMEENTEMUSEUM (THE HAGUE) – HOME OF PIET MONDRIAN: When people say you can lose yourself somewhere they generally mean it in a metaphorical sense – but you really can lose yourself in The Hague’s Gemeentemuseum, in both the metaphorical AND the literal sense. It’s huge.
It’s home to one of the world’s most famous modern artists, Piet Mondrian. Like Escher, he’s one of those artists that most will recognise even if they don’t actually know his name. Uniquely, at the Gemeentemuseum you can see a lot of his less famous work; so you can actually track his development as an artist, from when he painted landscapes and windmills through to the work that made him famous all over the world.
In 2017, Holland will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ‘De Stijl’ art movement. As part of this, Gemeentemuseum will display all of its 300 Mondrian artworks at the same time in one huge exhibition – for the first and only time in history. If you see one work of art there, make it is his famous ‘Victory Boogie Woogie’.
Please refer to stated websites for museum/Concertgebouw opening dates and times.
Flights to Holland
- Dee Murray