Springtime, fun time in The Hague

Spring has sprung in The Hague, and for expats residing in the Netherlands, it’s the perfect time to explore the vibrant cultural scene of this historic city. From awe-inspiring panoramas to mind-bending optical illusions and masterpieces of modern art, The Hague offers a diverse range of attractions to delight and inspire – beyond the best-known places like the Mauritshuis, Madurodam and the Peace Palace (all of which are very worthy of visits!). Here are three destinations in The Hague for expats looking to immerse themselves in the rich artistic heritage of the city, which quite likely have fallen under the radar!

Panorama Mesdag: A window to the past
Step into the world of 19th-century Holland at Panorama Mesdag, home to one of the oldest surviving panoramic paintings in the world and the oldest in the Netherlands. Created in 1881 by renowned Dutch artist Hendrik Willem Mesdag, this cylindrical masterpiece offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the North Sea, the dunes and the bustling cityscape of Den Haag and Scheveningen. The building was built especially to house this awe-inspiring example of Dutch historical art.

How Mesdag created this masterpiece is nothing short of amazing. Standing on the highest dune in Scheveningen in 1881, Mesdag drew the 360-degree vista on a large glass cylinder. After the drawing was complete, he then placed a light inside the cylinder and projected the drawing onto a canvas. With the help of family members and other painters, over the next four months he painted the stunning panorama of the Hague and its coastal neighbour. Talk about Dutch ingenuity! The glass cylinder he used is still in the museum, along with other paintings by him, the contributing painters and other artists from the time.

Mesdag’s meticulous attention to detail transports visitors back in time, providing a glimpse into life along the coast over a century ago. Vincent van Gogh himself was captivated by the panorama, declaring it flawless in its execution. Standing in the center of this monumental artwork, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to another era, surrounded by the sights and sounds of a bygone age.

Escher in The Palace Museum: A journey into the impossible
Prepare to have your perception challenged at Escher in The Palace Museum, a permanent exhibition dedicated to the mind-bending works of M.C. Escher (1898-1972). Known for his mesmerizing optical illusions and impossible geometries, Escher’s art continues to captivate audiences around the globe.

Housed within the former Winter Palace of Queen Mother Emma of the Netherlands, the museum showcases over 150 prints spanning Escher’s prolific career. From intricate woodcuts to mind-boggling tessellations, each piece offers a glimpse into the artist’s fascination with mathematical precision and visual trickery.

Highlights of the exhibition include Escher’s iconic work ‘Metamorphosis III’, a seven-meter-long woodcut that defies conventional notions of time and space. As you explore Escher’s surreal landscapes and impossible architecture, you’ll find yourself drawn into a world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary and the impossible becomes possible.

Kunstmuseum Den Haag: A feast for the senses
Experience the best of contemporary art and design at Kunstmuseum Den Haag, a masterpiece of modern architecture designed by Dutch architect Hendrik Berlage. Originally known as the Gemeentemuseum, this iconic institution boasts an extensive collection spanning centuries of artistic innovation.

From the vibrant works of the Hague School painters to the revolutionary compositions of Mondriaan and Picasso, the museum offers a comprehensive overview of modern art history. Explore the museum’s five style rooms, each showcasing a different artistic period, and marvel at the eclectic mix of paintings, sculptures, fashion, and decorative arts on display.

Don’t miss Mondriaan’s crowning achievement, ‘Victory Boogie Woogie’, a testament to the artist’s pioneering vision and enduring legacy. With its richly curated galleries and stunning architectural design, Kunstmuseum Den Haag promises a feast for the senses and a journey through the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary art.

Even just walking around the city is wonderful, especially in the spring. But there still might be some attractions that you haven’t thought about. Den Haag is a beautiful city and we’d love to have you come and visit!

Written by Marla Thomson