De Hallen is Haarlem’s museum of modern and contemporary art. And it is one of my personal favorites. Not just in Haarlem, but of all museums in the Netherlands.
What I like most about De Hallen is that it often introduces me to artists I haven’t heard of before. This is partly thanks to the fact that the exhibitions usually center around artists that haven’t had solo exhibitions in the Netherlands before. And of course partly because I don’t have the time to constantly keep my knowledge about contemporary art up-to-date.
De Hallen’s exhibitions change two to three times a year. Their permanent collection consists of around 10.000 works from national and international artists that express a critical view on today’s society through the use of mostly photography and video art.
Besides being a front runner in the world of contemporary art in the Netherlands, there is another reason why a visit to De Hallen should totally be on your to do-list.
And that reason is the beauty of the three historic buildings that house the museum.
The smallest one used to be the home of the servant of the fish market, back in the 17th century. It now gives you entrance to the museum. Do have a look at it from across the market to see how small it is compared to the two neighboring buildings that house the exhibition rooms of De Hallen.
The one on the left is the Vleeshal (or meat hall; this is where butchers used to sell their goods). Inside, there are two exhibitions rooms. I love how the historic character of building interacts with the modern art. The top floor is especially nice. It’s like a secret attic, hidden from normal life where all these interesting things are exposed to you. Do check it out!
The building on the right of the entrance (on the corner of the Grote Houtstraat) is newer. It was build in the 19th century to function as a meeting place for wealthy gentlemen. The exhibition rooms inside are of the ‘white cube’ type.
Information on opening hours, admission price and location can be found here.