very successful 2017

for the museum of friesland 2017 was a perfect prelude to leeuwarden-fryslân european capital of culture 2018

The Museum of Friesland in Leeuwarden has just had a very successful year. 145,000 people visited the museum in 2017, many more than the projected 100,000. This high attendance was due to the large exhibitions organised by the museum as part ofLeeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture 2018. The public’s favourite Alma-Tadema: Classical Charm  (awarded an 8.6) ran from 1 October 2016 to 7 February 2017 and was visited 158,000 times in four months (54,400 of which in 2017). Mata Hari: the myth and maiden opened on 14 October 2017. This exhibition about the Frisian femme fatale has attracted more than 37,000 visitors so far and will run until 2 April 2018. The museum is preparing major exhibitions for 2018: Phantom Limb: Art beyond Escher,Escher’s Journey and Rembrandt and Saskia.


mata hari: the myth and maiden

Exactly one hundred years after her death, the Museum of Friesland opened a large exhibition devoted to Mata Hari. In just two-and-a-half months 37,000 people have already met the woman behind the myth. Dutch newspaper NRC awarded it four stars and it received boundless international praise. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, El Pais and the BBC ran features on the exhibition.


The Museum of Friesland opened twelve large and small exhibitions in 2017. Chintz, cotton in bloom (11 March to 10 September 2017), about the hand-painted cotton from India, was popular with the public and was rated with an 8.4. The Fries Verzetsmuseum (Frisian Resistance Museum) is dedicated to the history of the Second World War and the Holocaust. The contemporary art exhibition Loaded Landscape (4 February to 5 June 2017) added a special dimension to this history. There were also six smaller presentations of works by contemporary artists from Friesland but also far beyond. The permanent exhibition Ferhaal fan Fryslân was refreshed and reopened on 1 April. Now everyone can explore the story of Friesland on a mobile phone by means of a free storytour.

alma-tadema, classical charm

The domestic and foreign media paid plenty of attention to Alma-Tadema: Classical Charm, our exhibition showcasing one of the most successful painters of the 19th century. News service NOS Journaal mentioned it four times, de Volkskrant called it magnificent, The Guardian found it ‘epic’, the Italian newspaper La Stampa used ‘magistrale’, and The Huffington Post said the exhibition was ‘dazzling’. The total media value of Alma-Tadema: Classical Charm was over 4.2 million euros. Visitors in Vienna and London were also extremely enthusiastic about the exhibition. After Leeuwarden, the exhibition travelled to the Belvedere in Vienna, where it attracted 95,095 visitors. The third and final destination was Leighton House Museum in London. This small but leading museum in the former house-studio of the painter Frederic Leighton welcomed 34,000 visitors to the exhibition.Alma-Tadema: Classical Charm has been nominated for the 2017 Global Fine Art Awards (GFAA) in the category ‘Best Impressionist and Modern – Solo Artist’. In 2015, the exhibition won the biennial award for the best exhibition plan by a Dutch museum. The marketing campaign was also nominated for the Cultuurmarketing (‘Culture Marketing’) Awards 2017.

economic value

Research shows that 71% of museum visitors came from outside the province (but from the Netherlands); of them, 60% came to Friesland specifically for the museum. On average they spent € 67, - in the city and province. The additional 61,770 visitors the Museum of Friesland brought to Friesland in 2017 resulted in a capital injection of €4,138,590 into the local and regional economy. Moreover, almost 26% of these visitors stayed on average 1.6 nights. This means that more than 25,600 overnight bookings in Friesland in 2017 were made by visitors to the museum.

improved image

At the beginning of 2017, the museum commissioned a nationwide image-awareness study by NBTC-NIPO Research. 7% of the Dutch spontaneously said they know of the Museum of Friesland. The Noordbrabants Museum was mentioned just as often. In 2012, when the museum was still at its old location, 4% spontaneously named the Museum of Friesland. In the case of an assisted question about the respondents’ familiarity with the museum, 33% indicated that it was almost as well known nationally as the Noordbrabants Museum (35%) and the Drents Museum (38%). The Museum of Friesland has a positive image among Dutch people and is seen as welcoming, lively dynamic and contemporary. Its image among Frisians has improved in recent years. In 2012,29% found the museum (reasonably) dynamic and in 2017 it was no less than 55%. It is striking that people who visited the Alma-Tadema exhibition rate the museum more highly than people who did not. No less than 64% of the Alma-Tadema visitors think that the Museum of Friesland has a national allure, compared to 31% of the people who did not visit the exhibition. 89% of the people who visited the exhibition indicated that they would (probably) visit the museum again. The success of Alma-Tadema will thus continue to reverberate for many years to come.


Thanks to the Deltaplan Digitalisering Kolleksje Fryslân (Delta Plan Digitisation Collection Friesland) initiated by Tresoar, the Museum of Friesland has been able to make huge progress in digitising its collection. More than 65% of it has been photographed, an increase of 71% compared to last year. In April 2015, only 23% of our collection had been photographed.


Our extensive educational programme resulted in more than 12,500 school visits in 2017, mainly from primary school pupils. In March and April 40 pupils in groups 7 and 8 visited the Fries Verzetsmuseum via Kunstmenu Leeuwarden, a cultural-educational programme aimed at primary schools in the town. In the autumn more than 40 groups came to Ferhaal fan Fryslân. After this visit, the pupils filled a white glassware cube with things they think should be preserved. Nearly 1000 pupils and teachers visited Mata Hari, the myth and maiden and used the exhibition-specific web app the museum developed. In addition, more than 4800 children and young people visited the museum independently. They mainly came for the school holiday activities. This year, the museum organised a total of 186 activities for both young and old, which lowered the threshold to the museum or provided deeper insights. Nearly 4500 visitors participated in the activities, such as the sold-out chintz workshops, lectures by experts on Mata Hari and various art workshops.


Throughout the year the website was visited 475,000 times. After the homepage, the Alma-Tadema exhibition page was viewed the most. The museum’s reach grew on social media. On Twitter the number of followers rose from 10,195 to 12,240 and on Facebook the museum’s ‘likes’ rose to 22,370. More than 1800 articles on the museum appeared in the printed media, with a combined advertising value of €3,630,213.


This year, Aegon has become the first commercial partner of the Museum of Friesland. On 10 May 2017, Aegon and the museum in Leeuwarden signed a long-term partnership. In 2017 and 2018, the museum and Aegon will work closely together on the major exhibitions about Mata Hari and M.C. Escher to reach a wider audience. In addition to the partnership with Aegon, the museum has 37 business friends. The museum’s private friends’ club now has 640 members who support the Museum of Friesland financially and in spirit. Together they contribute approximately €100,000 per year to special projects.

leeuwarden-fryslân european capital of culture 2018

With Mata Hari: the myth and the maiden and Escher’s Journey, the Museum of Friesland is part of the main programme of Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture 2018. From 26 January 2018, the museum will also present Phantom Limb: Art beyond Escher, inspired by the principles behind the work of Escher. In this exhibition, ten contemporary artists from the Netherlands and abroad present an alternative reality. The Museum of Friesland brings 2018 to a close with an exhibition on Rembrandt and its Saskia, which will open on 24 November.

In 2017, the Museum of Friesland and its activities were supported by Aegon, the Province of Friesland, the BankGiro Lottery, the Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland, EZ/Kompas, the Ir. Abe Bonnema Foundation, Rabobank, the Turing Foundation, Mondriaan Fund, VSB Fund, Prince Bernhard Culture Fund (the Joes Master Fund and Netty van Doorn Fund), Stichting Joes Lemmers Fonds, Fonds 21, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Fryslân, the Cultural Heritage Agency, Isaacson Draper Foundation, Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, Herbert Duintjer Fonds, Stichting Woudsend Anno 1816, the Central Government, Nelleke Nix Studio Gallery Press Inc., the Friends of the Museum of Friesland, Wassenbergh-Clarijs-Fontein Foundation, Gifted Art, Het Nieuwe Stads Weeshuis, Stichting Fonds voor de Geld- en Effectenhandel, The Rembrandt Association, Cultural Participation Fund, St. Anthony Gasthuis, Fonds Bolsward-Dronrijp 1993, Van Heloma Stichting, P.W. Janssen’s Friesche Stichting, Stichting Ritske Boelema Gasthuis, Stichting Pieter Haverkorn van Rijsewijk, Stichting Siebolt Foundation, Stichting Juckema-Sideriusfonds, Boelstra-Olivier Stichting.

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For more information, please contact the Museum of Friesland’s marketing and communication department: / 058 - 255 55 00.


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