A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
As I am writing this article, I am sitting on my windowsill facing one of the oldest and biggest canals in Leiden and am waiting for the arrival of the King. Yeah, the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander. Now, of course (or should I say, unfortunately?) he won’t be visiting me, but the newly renovated Museum de Lakenhal, which is one of the culturally most valuable museums of Leiden. Which, astonishingly, I got to see even before him! But here’s the story.
My house has not always been easy to live in.
Living in a monumental Dutch house from the 16th century may have its perks (I’m talking location!) but it certainly also has its downsides. Me having to go on a mouse hunt in the middle of the night or being woken up every morning at seven o’clock for three weeks straight by workers on the street because the windows seem to offer no protection against noise at all are just two of them.
However, recently I unexpectedly found an orange-gold envelope in our mailbox containing an invitation to an exclusive preview of the newly renovated Lakenhal Museum, which is located very close to where I live. Obviously, this was an invitation I could not refuse, so yesterday I – and some lucky others – got to marvel at the new Lakenhal Museum for the very first time.
During the seventeenth century, Leiden was the most modern and important cloth centre in the world. Men and women from all over Europe traveled to Leiden to find employment in the city that would fabricate the much sought-after textile.
In this period, also referred to as the Dutch Golden Age, several huge halls were established in Leiden to ensure the pristine quality of the cloth – the most significant of those being the Laecken-Hall, which, you might have already guessed, was the one to turn into this museum.
Despite being an exceptionally beautiful building by itself, the museum now hosts exhibitions of famous artists such as Rembrandt, it explores the history of Leiden through its art and gives insight into the lives of people during Leiden’s golden days. Which, ironically, were not that golden for many… As you walk from room to room you immerse yourself in a different time and culture, and you begin to discover Leiden from a very different perspective.
The museum will be open to the public from the 20th of June onwards and on the coming weekend, there will be a free opening festival held on-site featuring various cultural surprises including musical performances, lectures, and shows. Will you pay it a visit?