Art

Haarlem: visit the Frans Hals Museum

Frans Hals Museum (foto: Margareta Svensson) | Your Dutch Guide

Are you a big fan of Dutch masters? Do you love historical Dutch architecture? Then you’ll simply love a visit to the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, The Netherlands. The museum is actually spread out over two very special venues. And since Haarlem is only a stone’s throw from Amsterdam, you have no excuse not to visit. 

How to get to Haarlem, The Netherlands

  • From Amsterdam hop on a train to Haarlem. The train will get you to Haarlem in half an hour.
  • You can either buy a train ticket at the station, but you can also purchase an OV Chip Card to be able to travel on all forms of public transport in The Netherlands. Simply charge the card as you go.
  • Getting around Haarlem? Go on, be Dutch and rent a bike.
  • Feel like staying overnight in Haarlem (and you really should), consider staying at NIU Dairy with spacious and colourful rooms within walking distance from all the Haarlem sights.
  • Read my complete guide to Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Frans Hals Museum Haarlem, The Netherlands | Your Dutch Guide

Visit Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem

When I visited the Frans Hals Museum for the first time, it was still one museum. Completely dedicated to Golden Age Dutch master Frans Hals and his famous group portraits of the Civic Guard, which will definitely remind you of Rembrandt’s Night Watch. But now, the Frans Hals Museum is actually split up between two locations, just a ten-minute walk apart. Not only has the museum broadened its horizon, but the stroll between the two museums is also the perfect excuse to get to know Haarlem a little better. Before your visit buy your tickets online, so you don’t have to wait in line.

Frans Hals Museum: Hof

Frans Hals Museum, Hof (photo: Margareta Svensson) | Your Dutch Guide

Frans Hals Museum | Visit Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, The Netherlands

Visit Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (photo Gert-Jan van Rooij) | Your Dutch Guide

Truth be told, I still have such a soft spot for the Hof location of Frans Hals Museum. And if you’re into Dutch masters, this is where you should head first when visiting Haarlem. The historical building looks splendid with its gabled front, but did you know that it used to be a poorhouse and that this is the place where Frans Hals actually spent his final years. Like Rembrandt Frans Hals constantly had money problems, even though he was one of the most popular portrait painters of 17th century Holland. The site has a beautiful courtyard and the rooms are filled with lovely old Dutch details, like historical Delfts blue tiles. The Hof location of the museum holds the largest collection of Frans Hals’s works, including the famous group portraits. Hals was a true genius at paying attention to moods. But you can also see works by masters Pieter Bruegel the Younger and Jacob van Ruisdael.

Frans Hals Museum: Hal

Frans Hals Museum, Hal in Haarlem The Netherlands (photo Mieke Lindemans) | Your Dutch Guide

Grote Markt Haarlem, The Netherlands | Your Dutch Guide

The second venue of the Frans Hals Museum is located on Grote Markt, the beautiful central square of Haarlem. It actually consists of a fusion of three grand historical halls, hence the name. The museum is housed in three buildings, built in different centuries and called Vleeshal, Vishuisje en Verweyhal. Inside the joining of the three buildings looks very harmonious.

The Hal venue of the Frans Hals Museum hosts, often, contemporary art exhibits, highlighting a theme from Frans Hals’s work. This not only demonstrates how timeless the work by Dutch masters in general and Frans Hals in particular is. It also builds a bridge between the two museums.

Read more about Haarlem, The Netherlands

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Frans Hals Museum Haarlem, The Netherlands | Your Dutch Guide

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Janis
    October 31, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    I really love Haarlem, it seems worlds apart from Amsterdam. We visited there a couple of years ago and I’m sorry to say we didn’t get a chance to visit The Frans Hals museum, but now reading your post it gives me an excuse to return.

  • Reply
    Lydia
    November 6, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Looks lovely. I really enjoyed Amsterdam. I would like more time to see outside the city.

  • Reply
    Christine
    November 7, 2019 at 4:41 am

    I wish I knew about this town a few months ago when I was in Amsterdam! Would love to make this short trip to visit the museum!

  • Reply
    Sharon
    November 7, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    I’ve wanted to visit Haarlem to see the Corrie ten Boom house, and now the Frans Halls Museum is certainly another reason to go! I love the dark, brooding classic art. On my bucket list!

  • Reply
    Rhonda Albom
    November 10, 2019 at 12:32 am

    I was in Haarlem a number of years ago. The city is very cute but I missed the museum. I wish I had known about it.

  • Reply
    Jill
    November 10, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    Oh, there is so much to see and do in the Netherlands! I’m visiting next summer and I know I will run out of time to do even the small bit that I want to do. Looks like such an interesting museum to visit!

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