In the 17th century, Haarlem was a powerful and prosperous city, not to mention, a centre of arts and culture.
The Frans Hals Museum has enjoyed growing fame and interest ever since it opened its doors in Groot Heiligland in 1913. The museum’s collection of Haarlem Old Masters of the Golden Age, including the world’s largest collection of paintings by Frans Hals, is unique. In the early seventeenth century painting underwent a radical change, and the foundations for this were laid in Haarlem. This change ultimately determined the style and the grandeur of the Golden Age, so Haarlem can rightly be regarded as its birthplace. The Frans Hals Museum’s collection, which encompasses the entire spectrum of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century painting, reflects this revolutionary change.
Just as seventeenth-century Haarlem offered fertile soil in which an innovative urge expressed in art could grow and flourish, so today De Hallen Haarlem aims to provide a platform for developments in contemporary art, based on the same open and proactive attitude. Innovations always provoke great resistance, particularly when they cross existing boundaries and challenge established norms. De Hallen Haarlem faces up to the confrontation and deliberately seeks out this area of tension. The museum aims to position itself unequivocally as the champion of a living culture – a culture constantly in flux with the capacity to accomplish something new.
The aim of museum is to enlighten the public and share the enjoyment of the unprecedented blossoming of painting in the Golden Age, and of international developments in contemporary decorative art. Passing on the rich collection of sixteenth and seventeenth-century paintings and the collection of modern and contemporary art to future generations is their prime objective.
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