The Frans Hals Museum is divided over two locations: Hof and Hal. They are within a short and scenic walk from each other, through historic Haarlem.
Hal is a hotspot of culture on Haarlem’s Grote Markt. But it is also a medley of beautiful architecture as it comprises three different buildings, each from a different century: the Vleeshal (‘Meat Hall’), Vishuisje (‘Fish House’) and Verweyhal (‘Verwey Hall’). An imminent renovation will result in the harmonious integration of all three buildings.
Since it became a museum in 1951, the Vleeshal (Meat Hall) has exhibited the work of many famous artists: from Rembrandt to Damien Hirst (famous for, among others, the diamond-encrusted skull). Built in the early 17th century, this impressive building was originally – as the name suggests – the municipal market hall for butchers and meat merchants. It was designed by the famous Flemish architect Lieven de Key (1560-1627), who – just like Frans Hals – had fled to Haarlem to escape the Spanish rule.
The small Vishuisje (Fish House) was built around 1600 and as of 1766, it was home to the superintendent of the fish market. Later, when it was a coffee house, the Zandvoort fishwives would come here to rest and chat. The house, which was completely rebuilt in 1905, stands between the two museum halls. During a major renovation in the early ’90s it was included in the De Hallen museum complex.
The Verweyhal (Verwey Hall) was built in 1879/80 for the gentlemen’s society, Trou moet Blycken. There is nothing left of the original interior now, but at the time, the building boasted an expensive parquet floor, which was rubbed and polished for about six hours every day. Later, a bank moved into the premises, and eventually it became an exhibition space. After the last renovation, in the ’90s, the building was named after Haarlem painter Kees Verwey (1900-1995). Verwey gave his work to the Frans Hals Museum and, via his foundation, made it possible for the museum to cover the renovation costs.