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Maerten van Heemskerck – The Triumphal Procession of Bacchus, 1536/37, 50 × 91 cm, oil on panel, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem. Photo Arend Velsink

HAARLEM.- The Frans Hals Museum zooms in on the details, the hidden to the eye and even the invisible! The museum is home to a treasure trove of small things that are usually overlooked but deserve our attention. As in the game I Spy With My Little Eye... visitors are challenged to discover little secrets through others’ eyes. Art critic Wieteke van Zeil, novelist Niña Weijers and the museum’s conservators teach visitors to look in a different way and spin wonderful stories from what they see. 

At a time when everything has to be big, bigger or biggest in the museum world, the Frans Hals Museum, a museum on a human scale, has chosen to do the opposite. The museum focuses attention on its beautifully worked tiles, ornaments, tiny silver objects and, of course, all those unnoticed details in paintings. Visitors go on a journey of discovery, like a Gulliver on the island of Lilliput and are being challenged to look at the museum building and the collection with a ‘different eye’. It is a journey for young and old on which visitors will learn to look more closely and develop an eye for the detail, the hidden and the imaginary, and so be given the key to a world of stories. 

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Maerten van Heemskerck – The Triumphal Procession of Bacchus, detail, 1536/37, 50 × 91 cm, oil on panel, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem. Photo Arend Velsink

Wieteke van Zeil and Niña Weijers 
I Spy With My Little Eye… begins with the permanent collection and offers a multi-faceted programme encompassing the entire museum so that visitors can go in search of what is seemingly hidden in a variety of different ways. 

• Spread over the museum’s rooms, visitors will find clues and short stories about details that can be found in paintings, in the interior and on objects. For really keen visitors there is an app with more details in different categories. 

• Wieteke van Zeil, known for her column in the newspaper Volkskrant Je gaat het pas zien als je het doorhebt (You’re only going to see it if you get it), describes details in the paintings she chose from the collection in her own associative way. 

• Niña Weijers recently wrote the universally praised novel De consequenties and now lets visitors enjoy an apparently invisible artwork made especially for the museum. 

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Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem – The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis, 1592/93, 246 × 419 cm, oil on canvas, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, long-term loan from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague. Photo René Gerritsen

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Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem – The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis, detail, 1592/93, 246 × 419 cm, oil on canvas, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, long-term loan from the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and the Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague. Photo René Gerritsen

Jan van Scorel – A Divine Discovery

From 14 November 2015 to 13 March 2016 the Frans Hals Museum will be focusing on the period when the painter Jan van Scorel (1495 – 1562) was working in Haarlem. Jan van Scorel – A Divine Discovery has been prompted by the restoration of and research into The Baptism of Christ, one of Van Scorel’s most important paintings from his Haarlem period. A wealth of new information about the painting will be revealed in the small exhibition, since various elements, including the face of God the Father, emerged from under old overpaintings. 

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Jan van Scorel – The Baptism of Christ, c. 1527-30, panel,120,5 × 156,5 cm, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem The painting after the removal of layers of varnish, overpaintings and retouchesPhotography ©René Gerritsen

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Restorers Jorinde Koenen and Jessica Roeders at workPhotography ©René Gerritsen

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Jan van Scorel – The Baptism of Christ, c. 1527-30, panel, 120,5 × 156,5 cm, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem after restaurationPhotography ©René Gerritsen

Dolls’ House in the Spotlight

From 6 July onwards, children and grown-ups alike will find enchantment in a gallery full of dolls’ house rooms in the Frans Hals Museum. A magical collage of seventy little rooms, some in 3D, has been created from real seventeenth- and eighteenth-century dolls’ houses. Visitors can get close enough to discover details that often remain hidden. The display was inspired by one of the highlights of the Frans Hals Museum—the monumental dolls’ house put together by the Amsterdam merchant’s wife Sara Rothé.

 

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Photography ©Margareta Svensson

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Photography ©Margareta Svensson 

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Photography ©Margareta Svensson 

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Photography ©Margareta Svensson 

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Photography ©Margareta Svensson 

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Photography ©Margareta Svensson

Visual Literacy With the permanent collection as the basis, the museum introduces an innovative and multifaceted approach aimed at broadening visitors’ understanding of art through active involvement. It is important that not everything is immediately visible so visitors have to search for significant details. As in the game I Spy With My Little Eye … it is about discovering what is not immediately obvious at first glance. It is only through the clues, the explanations and the stories that museum visitors will be able to find the hidden treasures. 

They are being challenged to look closely, to act as ‘researchers’ and to switch from passively ‘seeing’ to actively ‘looking’. Learning to look keenly is a form of visual literacy and can help people derive more pleasure from what they see.