Record year for Princessehof

The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics has had an exceptionally good year. A total of 39,311 people visited the museum in 2016, the most successful year for the museum in recent decades. Most people came to the Princessehof for the Sexy Ceramics exhibition. This high-profile exhibition, which opened on 27 August, has so far already attracted 20,000 visitors. The Princessehof is preparing for 2017, when it celebrates its centennial anniversary with a thorough makeover.

The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics in Leeuwarden expects to welcome 40,000 visitors in 2016. This is a 10% increase compared to 2015, and over 50% more than in 2014. Half of these visitors came for Sexy Ceramics. This exhibition about sensuality warmed many new visitors to ceramics: 58% of the visitors came to the Princessehof for the first time. Ceramics enthusiasts also continue to visit the Princessehof. For 25% of the visitors it was the at least the third time that they visited the museum. This confirms the Princessehof’s role as the Netherlands’ definitive national ceramics museum.

Economic contribution

Of the visitors to the Princessehof, 78% came from outside Friesland, and 53% came to Leeuwarden especially to visit the museum. The museum thus attracted over 16,000 additional visitors to the city. Most visitors combine their visit with a dinner, a shopping spree or a weekend in Leeuwarden. On average individuals from this group spent €87.-  in the city, so the Princessehof gave Leeuwarden an economic boost of €1.438.632,-.


This year the Princessehof acquired two Kakiemon figures from the late 17th century that are absolute masterpieces: they were made in Japan where they are called bijin, meaning ‘beautiful elegant woman’. Only three museums in Europe have bijin made of this Japanese porcelain in their collections, of which Princessehof is now one. The figures are extremely rare and are in very good condition. It was an expensive acquisition, made possible by the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt’s thematic Non-Western Art fund, the Mondriaanfonds and the Wassenbergh-Clarijs-Fontein Stichting.


Presented early in 2016, the acclaimed exhibition The 20th century – mirroring time in ceramics, was well attended by enthusiastic visitors who were guided past defining moments in the previous century by Frans Leidelmeijer’s audio tour. The museum also presented the first in a series of design exhibitions. In Design # 1: Olivier van Herpt the young designer Van Herpt exhibited his homemade 3D clay printer. In cooperation with the Groninger Museum, the Princessehof’s presentation Joost van den Toorn - Something to believe in is still open to visitors until 8 January 2017, with the Groninger Museum exhibiting this Amsterdam artist’s sculptures, and the Princessehof his ceramics. Sexy Ceramics can be seen until 9 July 2017.

Young visitors

This year, the Princessehof organised 162 activities for young and old, with a total of 2335 participants. The museum’s comprehensive educational programme resulted in more than 4300 school trips. In the autumn, 3100 students from 18 schools from the PCBO primary schools to build the exhibition Schervenjacht (‘Shard Hunt’). To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the PCBO schools, students collected thousands of shards, and the curators scoured the museum’s collection to show a number of the Princessehof’s shard stories. During the annual Princessedag on 19 June, 127 children dressed as a prince or princess came to Prinsentuin to enjoy a programme of dancing, singing and workshops for small groups. As the previous year, the day was a resounding success attended by the maximum number of participants, including a sizeable group who normally do not visit museums.


In 2016 the Princessehof website was viewed more than 140,000 times, an increase of 25% compared to 2015. Social media activity was also lively and encouraging: Facebook followers rose from 1500 to 2053, and Twitter followers increased to over 2400.


The preparations for the museum’s 100th founding anniversary in 2017 and international projects associated with Leeuwarden, Friesland European Capital of Culture 2018 are already in full swing. In the years ahead the Princessehof will cooperate with the European Ceramic Work Centre (EKWC), and visual arts and design from the EKWC will be exhibited in the Princessehof. In 2017 the presentation of the permanent collection will undergoing a transformation and the age-old story of ceramics from the East and West will be presented in a more public-oriented way. The ground floor with the museum shop and tearoom will undergo a thorough makeover. The Princessehof will reopen in early September, exactly 100 years after the Frisian public notary Nanne Ottema first opened the doors of the Princessehof. The anniversary is suitably complemented with a major exhibition of contemporary ceramic art from the East and West. During Leeuwarden, Friesland European Capital of Culture 2018, the museum will present the international exhibition Migrating Ceramics, which shows the Netherlands’ pivotal role in the development and distribution of ceramic products and techniques, from the 16th century to the present day.

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