The Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics in Leeuwarden had an excellent year with 43,745 visitors. The Princessehof has also been nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award for its successful refurbishment in 2017. In the ten years prior to the refurbishment, the museum attracted an average of 32,000 visitors annually. This year the exhibition Sunken Treasures: Secrets of the Maritime Silk Road, with collections from Singapore and South Korea, among others, attracted unprecedented numbers of visitors. Dutch newspaper the NRC described the exhibition as ‘striking’ and visitors rated it with a score of 8.4.
More than 29,000 visitors came to Leeuwarden in 2019 especially for the Princessehof. Most people combined their visit to the museum with a meal, a day of shopping or a weekend in Leeuwarden. Together they spent 1.4 million euros in the city and the region. In addition, some 5000 visitors stayed for one or more nights. The Princessehof therefore generated more than 9000 extra overnight stays in hotels in Leeuwarden. The museum received a lot of media attention and was mentioned in 500 articles in various publications, with a media value of almost 1 million euros.
Sunken Treasures: Secrets of the Maritime Silk Road has been well visited and highly rated with an average score of 8.4. It is viewable until 28 June 2020. Made in Holland: 400 years a global brand ran until 30 June 2019 and was awarded four stars by the NRC. The 75,000 visitors who came to see it gave it a score of 8.3. In addition to Sunken Treasures four contemporary ceramics exhibitions opened in the Princessehof in 2019. In Dragonstone Jólan van der Wiel displays objects with an extraterrestrial appearance that he made using magnetic fields. Falling Feathers shows various sculptural works by Jennifer Tee, including imaginative collages and two installations consisting of black and white porcelain feathers. The EKWC@Princessehof series presents temporary exhibitions by artists who have had a residency in the European Ceramic Work Centre. This year’s residents were Tilmann Meyer-Faje and Tanja Smeets.
Activities and education
This year the Princessehof organised 130 activities for both young and old with a total of around 3000 participants. Together with the Fries Museum, the museum organised the talk show series De diepte in, hosted by former newsreader Aldith Hunkar. This sold-out series provided more depth to the Sunken Treasures and We Vikings exhibitions. In the summer, the museum offered free drawing lessons in the garden to widen its appeal. This year more than 4700 pupils visited the Princessehof to see, for example, the play Tryater made to accompany Sunken Treasures. In 36 performances spread over seven weeks more than 1500 children and students saw how Captain Pearl travelled from the year 1822 to the present day. Nearly 1400 pupils from groups 1 and 2 from Leeuwarden and the surroundings took part in the museum's special programme. More than 1300 secondary school pupils also visited Made in Holland and Sunken Treasures, more than half of them participating in one of the three design contests. The museum also experimented with a new inspirational and presentation programme for secondary vocational education, which was attended by some 250 students. More than 2300 children visited the museum outside school hours, and went on a voyage of discovery through Sunken Treasures with a special treasure map, for example. The annual Princess Day was once again completely sold out with 400 participants.
The Princessehof has entered into a long-term partnership with the National Museum of Korea. Many loans from the National Museum can be seen in Sunken Treasures. In return, starting next year the Princessehof will loan the museum in Korea a large collection of European and Asian ceramics for a permanent exhibition on global ceramics. Moreover, in 2021 the Princessehof will create a large exhibition on Korea, for which many objects will once again travel to Leeuwarden. The Princessehof's collection will be expanded in 2019 to include works by Iranian artist Shahpour Pouyan, among others. The Princessehof has also received two refined Korean porcelain bowls on long-term loan from the Ottema-Kingma Foundation. The foundation purchased these rare porcelain objects at the request of the museum. Both bowls were immediately included in the permanent exhibition From East to West. The objects were produced at the Joseon-dynasty imperial kilns and date from the late 15th or early 16th century. In the exhibition the bowls form an important link between China and Japan in the development of porcelain.
From 5 September 2020 to 27 June 2021 the Princessehof presents an exhibition of major contemporary art installations as a follow-up to the successful In Motion: Ceramic Reflections in Contemporary Art exhibition in 2017. The museum will also highlight its history as the city palace of Maria Louise and the birthplace of the graphic artist M.C. Escher. In addition, the garden and tearoom will be made more appealing to the public. The museum thus contributes to the rural spread of tourism.
This year, the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics and its exhibitions were supported by the Mondriaan Fund, the Prins Bernhard Culture Fund, Stichting Van Achterbergh-Domhof, the Society of Friends of the Princessehof National Museum of Ceramics, St. Escher. Anthony Gasthuis, Ottema-Kingma Foundation, Muller Fund, De Gijselaar-Hintzen Fund, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, Stichting Fonds Oostersche Handel en Reederijen, Korea Foundation, the Prins Bernhard Culture Fund Buchter-De Vries Fund, M.A.O. C. Gravin van Bijlandt Foundation, Leeuwarden Fryslân 2028, Vaderlandsch Fonds, Club Céramique.