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The Frans Hals Museum is divided over two locations: HOF and HAL. They are within a short, scenic walk from each other, through historic Haarlem.
Now home to an array of art treasures, our Hof location was once a home for old men; a place where, in the 17th century, gentlemen enjoyed their golden years. But since 1913, this courtyard building of Groot Heiligland has exhibited the municipal art collection, with numerous highlights from the same 17th century.
In the 1930s, a new hall was built behind the main building, and a depot was added at the end of the 1950s. In 1981, the museum was further expanded with a section for modern art, based on a design by city architect Wiek Röling (1936-2011). Today, the building is home to an exhibition about Frans Hals, a lecture room, the museum café, and the Studio H workshop space.
Between being an Old Men’s House and a museum, the building also served as an orphanage for just under a century. From 1810 onwards, it sheltered numerous orphaned children, one of whom was the painter and writer Jacobus van Looy (1855-1930).
In 1908 the municipality bought the buildings with the aim of exhibiting the municipal art collection there, as it had outgrown the space in the town hall. Large parts of the Old Men’s House were demolished and rebuilt in early 17th-century style, as designed by city architect Lucas Christiaan Dumont (1865-1935). On 14 May 1913, the Frans Hals Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time.
Much of the present interior is different from how the building originally looked. Introduced in 1913 or later, the new additions are part of the museum collection. Take room 15, for instance, which was originally the dining room of the Old Men’s House: the chandeliers come from the 12th-century church at Spanbroek, the tiles from demolished old buildings in the city, and the ornamental fireplace is composed of pieces that did not originally belong together.