Flowers at the Frans Hals Museum

Flowers at Frans Hals Museum

Every Spring Haalem's Frans Hals Museum opens its galleries to leading floral designers - with spectacular results. We caught up with the Monique van Royen to find out more.

Frans Hals flowers

 Vase by Jan van der Vaart, flowers by Paul Wijkmeier, photo by Inga Powilleit


ECT: When did the tradition of floral displays at the Museum begin and why?

MvR: Haarlem is located in the bulb-growing region and has been known as the flower city par excellence since time immemorial and many of the paintings in the museum tell the story of the mania for tulips during the Golden Age, so there is a natural affinity. In 1989, a talented group of volunteers from the Friends of the Frans Hals Museum started to decorate the museum and the idea has grown from there. We now show the flowers for eight weeks and, for the last three years, the designer Paul Wijkmeijer and his team have been helping with the displays.

Paul Wijkmeijer at work

Paul Wijkmeijer at work, photo by Inga Powilleit


ECT: It can't be easy having live flowers sitting amongst these precious paintings. What challenges do you face? 

MvR: Keeping the flowers fresh and the elaborate vases clean are the biggest challenges, but the thing that keeps the conservation department busy is the wildlife ... they are always on the look out for small creatures hiding in the flowers! But it's worth it - the flowers really bring the museum to life.

ECT: What designers have you worked with in the past?

MvR: Joke Reurink, Ietje Marseille, Ingrid Smit and now Vibeke Struben. We also commission artists such as the Dutch ceramic artist Jan van der Vaart and glass artists Bernard Heesen and Ritsue Mishima to design the vases.

Vase Bernard Heesen

Vase by Bernard Heesen, photo by Gert Jan van Rooij

Vibeke Struben

Display by Vibeke Struben, photo by Inga Powilleit


ECT: What's the most unusual display you have seen?

MvR: We once had a floral display of an enormous bear designed by Hans van Bentem in the garden