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The Royal Cabinet of Curiosities

Mauritshuis trapzaal
City center
Exhibition genre
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Did you know that the Mauritshuis was not one museum until 1875? Yep, long before we had paintings in our homes, you could visit not one, but two institutions at the Mauritshuis. 200 years ago the building was packed from floor to ceiling with fascinating objects. A so-called cabinet of curiosities. From 1822 onwards, the ground floor of the Mauritshuis housed the Royal Cabinet of Rarities. 

A colorful collection of antiques, porcelain, clothing, stuffed animals and all kinds of other things. Step into the world of collecting and be carried away by the 10,000 objects that stole the show for Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring and Potter's The Bull.

Exhibition Royal Cabinet of Rarities

The Royal Cabinet of Rarities was once the crowd-puller: full rooms with curiosities and strange objects. An outing you didn't want to miss. During this exhibition you will delve into the unknown, exciting past of the Mauritshuis. 

Learn how objects from all over the world ended up in The Hague and discover the stories behind them. We highlight individual items with attention to changing views on collecting, exhibiting and exploring other cultures.

Forgotten museum

 The oldest core of the current painting collection was located on the first floor of the Mauritshuis. And 200 years ago, in addition to those few hundred paintings, you could also see jewelry, musical instruments, vases and more on the ground floor. 

As you would expect, our Royal Cabinet of Rarities had a packed house. And those showpieces? These did not just fall out of the sky, but were once part of the personal collection of Stadtholder Willem IV and his son Willem V. They laid the foundation for what is now the Mauritshuis's masterful collection of paintings. This exhibition not only provides an insight into a lost museum, but also tells the story of the history of the Netherlands.

What did that look like? 

You can imagine that the ground floor of the Mauritshuis was one colorful mess. There was plenty to see: utensils, weapons, porcelain, clothing, models and miniatures, art and curiosities. This colorful collection of objects made it a real cabinet of curiosities. A collected collection of special items. 

You could see all these trinkets in open wall cabinets, table display cases, the larger ones hung on the wall or ceiling, others stood on the floor.

Herman ten Kate, Interieur van heKoninklijk Kabinet van Zeldzaamheden in het Mauritshuis, 1843.
Herman ten Kate, Interior of the Royal Cabinet of Rarities in the Mauritshuis, 1843.

Dates and Times

12 November 5 January 2025
13:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
€ 0,00 - 19,50
Adults € 19,50
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