A new exhibition at the Kunstmuseum The Hague revolves around the building itself. It is a design by Hendrik Berlage (1856 – 1934), one of the most important Dutch architects.
The museum of modern and applied art opened its doors in 1935 and according to the architect, it was one of his best designs. The museum was called Gemeentemuseum The Hague until 2019.
The exhibition Het dreamed museum, Berlages masterpiece focuses on the ideas of the architect and the then director Hendrik van Gelder.
Initial design too expensive
The idea for a new museum building on the Stadhouderslaan in The Hague was born back in 1920. “In it the creators saw a museum of applied and modern art, a large concert hall with 1500 people, libraries and study halls,” says curator Jan de Bruijn versus Omroep West. Cost of design: 17.5 to 20 million guilders.
“ A huge amount, just after the First World War,” says De Bruijn. Ultimately, the municipality thought the project was too expensive and the plan ended up in the fridge.
In 1927, Berlage was once again commissioned by the municipality to make a design for the new museum building. The construction of that design eventually cost about 2.5 million guilders.
The result is a modern and striking building. Characteristic is the light, the spaciousness and the use of colour. In addition, the human size of the building stands out. “Small and large halls, places where you can sit and a beautiful garden around it”, says curator Jet van Overeem.
Art for everyone
Berlage and Van Gelder also wanted a museum building that was for everyone, says Van Overeem. “Not only for the elite, but also for the lower educated and younger children. They wanted to involve everyone in the museum because they wanted to encourage the viewing of art and the experience of beauty.”
Due to the coronavirus Kunstmuseum Den Haag is closed for the time being If you cannot wait for the museum to reopen, you can watch a video of the opening of the exhibition.