The museum is housed in the former Oude Mannenhuis (Old mens house) in a street called Groot Heiligland. (Great Holy Land). There is a special bus stop, conveniently named Frans Hals Museum, around the corner on a 5 minute walk. (August 2013, bus 3 from Central station)
The major attractions of course are the large paintings of the lively Banquets of the Officers of Militia of the 17th century. They are on display in a large room with a dining table in the middle with the food of the 17th century on display. This makes an interesting combination: the dining on the paintings and the life size model of a dining table in front of the paintings.
At the entrance of the museum is a large video wall with the story of Frans Hals and the evolution of his work. When I visited the narration was in Dutch only. Maybe ask at the front desk if any other language is available too.
Besides the Militia paintings there are the very lively portraits made by Frans Hals. Some are double portraits of married couples, on separate panels, the man on the left panel, his wife at his right.
The most beautiful Frans Hals painting in my opinion, the only one where he portrayed a couple on a single canvas, is on display in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (Couple in a garden: Wedding portrait of Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa and Beatrix van der Laan) Check that out when you are in the Rijksmuseum.
Other parts of the museum have fine paintings, some beautiful style rooms and interesting artefacts like 17th century furniture (clocks, chairs and chests). A separate room has a large dolls house.
Part of the museum has changing exhibitions on various themes. Check the museum’s website for details.
There is a small café for some drinks and light meals and a nice souvenir shop.
The area around the museum is very interesting to walk with centuries old small alleyways. It’s an easy, short walk to the central market with the St.Bavo Church and other museums.
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