The Museum of Friesland in Leeuwarden has had a record year. A total of 175,977 people visited the museum in 2016. At the old location, the museum had 50,000 visitors per year until 2013. By far the biggest attraction was the exhibition Alma-Tadema, classical charm. The exhibition, which is on show until 7 February 2017, is a resounding success. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 visitors have visited the exhibition, the (international) media attention has been overwhelming and visitors rate it with a score of 8.6. With blockbusters about Mata Hari in 2017 and Escher during Leeuwarden, Friesland European Capital of Culture 2018, the Museum of Friesland is confident about the years ahead.
On 1 October 2016 the Museum of Friesland opened the largest exhibition in its history. Dedicated to one of the most successful painters of the 19th century, Alma-Tadema, classical charm has been hugely successful. With almost two months to go, more than 90,000 people have already visited the exhibition, of which more than 70,000 came from outside Friesland. Domestic and foreign media paid copious attention to the exhibition. The 8 o’clock news on Dutch broadcaster NOS featured the exhibition on two occasions; Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant described it as ‘magnificent’; the Guardian found it ‘epic’, while the Italian newspaper La Stampa said it is ‘masterful’. The widely read American Huffington Post said that Alma-Tadema, classical charm was ‘dazzling’.
In 2016 the Museum of Friesland presented eleven large and small exhibitions. The exhibition Claudy Jongstra - Ancient Light, which can be seen until 8 January 2017, received a score of 8.2 from a highly appreciative public. In a special intergenerational project accompanying the exhibition Knitting! 140 vocational students were taught how to knit by 60 ladies from the organisation Vrouwen van Nu. These students in turn taught about 2500 students from almost 100 schools in and around Leeuwarden. The knitted results were displayed during the exhibition in the museum’s foyer. Gold ran until 5 June 2016 and introduced visitors to the treasures of early medieval Friesland. The Fries Verzetsmuseum (Frisian Resistance Museum) hosted the hungry children - the shelter in friesland exhibition, with its harrowing tales of hungry evacuees during WOII. An exhibition of contemporary work by the Frisian artist Tjibbe Hooghiemstra opened in July, and the exhibition The Cow: Cas Oorthuys & Hans van der Meer was presented in cooperation with the Nederlands Fotomuseum.
Research shows that 78% of museum visitors came from outside the province; 81% of them came to Friesland especially for the museum. On average, they spent € 61.- in the city and the province. This means that the Museum of Friesland attracted 111,000 additional visitors to Friesland in 2016, thus generating a capital injection of at least €6.782.889 into the local and regional economies. Several Leeuwarden entrepreneurs ranging from caterers and small hoteliers to cheese shops and even clothing stores have reported an increase in their turnover thanks to the Alma-Tadema exhibition.
The new Kolleksjesintrum Friesland came into operation this year. On 29 April 2016 the last of 200,000 objects were moved from the old depot. The collections of Museum of Friesland, Nature Museum Fryslân, Fries Scheepvaartmuseum, Fries Agriculture Museum and Tresoar are now housed in the Kolleksjesintrum. Such an integrated collaboration is unique and saves a lot of space and time. Due to the advanced building techniques, the depot is energy neutral. Behind the scenes, the Museum of Friesland is busy digitising the collection.
Young visitors could participate in a variety of activities almost every day last year, for example, in the exhibitions Knitting! or Alma-Tadema, classical charm. The comprehensive educational programme catered to more than 11,000 school visits. Over 70% of these were children from primary schools, and students from high schools throughout the Netherlands also visited the museum because of the Alma-Tadema exhibition. In the spring the Museum of Friesland realised an exhibition of visual arts exam work for the second time in cooperation with the teacher-training course Visual Arts and Design and the newspaper, the Leeuwarder Courant. The Alma-Tadema exhibition was accompanied by a children’s book in Frisian and Dutch. Moreover more than 7500 children and young people visited the museum independently; they came especially for the activities organised by the museum in the school holidays.
This year the Museum of Friesland organised 340 activities for young and old, which increased accessibility to the museum or offered deeper insights. A total of nearly 8800 visitors participated in the activities on offer, such as the 600 attendees at one of the highly acclaimed lectures on Alma-Tadema. Together with our partner Slieker Film, Leeuwarden’s art house cinema, the museum organised a film programme that complemented Alma-Tadema, classical charm. Volunteer knitters participated in the Knitting! exhibition four days a week. More than 200 knitting volunteers from all parts of the country and even from Belgium gave demonstrations and advised people on their knitting.
Compared to last year, the museum’s retail tripled in 2016. A comprehensive range of Alma-Tadema merchandise was developed, ranging from posters to umbrellas and even spectacle cases. The book accompanying the exhibition, in which several (inter)national experts illuminate his life and work, is now in its third edition.
The Museum of Friesland launched its new website in October 2016. Throughout the year, 500,000 people visited the website, an increase of 67% compared to 2015. A new website was made for the Fries Verzetsmuseum (Frisian Resistance Museum). Social media also increased the reach of the museum. On Twitter, the number of followers rose from 8860 to 10,195 and the museum has more than 20,000 likes on Facebook: the Museum of Friesland is the leading museum in this regard in the northern Netherlands.
Meanwhile the private club of friends of the museum has 675 members who support the Museum of Friesland financially and in spirit. The museum has 35 corporate friends. Together, they contribute approximately € 100,000 annually to special projects within the museum.
The Museum of Friesland is gearing up for another exceptional year. The exhibition Alma, classical charm will be sent on a journey: from 23 February to 18 June 2017 it will be shown in Belvedere in Vienna, and from 7 July to 29 October 2017 at Leighton House Museum in London. In the spring, the museum presents the exhibition Beladen Landschap(‘Loaded Landscape’), featuring contemporary artists’ reflections on landscapes that are affected by conflict or war. With Wealth of Waste, a collaboration with Boerhaave Museum and Circulair Friesland, the museum will present a true family expo in 2017. As of 11 March the museum will present an extraordinary collection of ancient chintz, hand-painted cotton from India. On 15 October 2017 the Museum of Friesland opens the international blockbuster about the mysterious Mata Hari. This exhibition will focus on the story of the girl behind the myth. In addition, the museum is busy preparing for the major exhibition on M.C. Escher as part of its preparations for Leeuwarden, Friesland European Capital of Culture 2018.
The Museum of Friesland and its activities this year have been sponsored by the Ir. Abe Bonnema Stichting, Provincie Fryslân, het Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland, EZ/Kompas, de BankGiro Loterij, de Turing Foundation, Mondriaan Fonds, VSBfonds, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds (het Joes Meester Fonds en Netty van Doorn Fonds), Fonds 21, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Fryslân, Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, Isaacson Draper Foundation, Stimuleringsfonds, Herbert Duintjer Fonds, Stichting Woudsend Anno 1816, de Rijksoverheid, Nelleke Nix Studio Gallery Press Inc., Vrienden van het Fries Museum, Wassenbergh-Clarijs-Fontein Stichting, Gifted Art, Het Nieuwe Stads Weeshuis, Stichting Fonds voor de Geld- en Effectenhandel, de Vereniging Rembrandt, Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie, St. Anthony Gasthuis, Fonds Bolsward-Dronrijp 1993, Van Heloma Stichting, P.W. Janssen’s Friesche Stichting, Stichting Ritske Boelema Gasthuis.