Cultural circles in the Netherlands often discuss the importance of cooperation. Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden regards cooperation as more than a one-off project. It is a mentality that is expressed in al museological activities. Cooperation is in Museum De Lakenhal's genes.


As a contemporary 'networked museum', Museum De Lakenhal maintains strong ties with various sections of Leiden's society. It stands out as the single museum of the arts in museum city Leiden. Its own quality can rise to new and surprising levels by cooperation. This can be achieved in a local, national and international field, both structurally and occasionally, with big or small partners, in principal and fringe programming. Sometimes, it results in research, publication or exhibitions, sometimes in a practical or economic advantage, but always with the objective to reach out to new groups of people along the lines of the collection.

In May 2015, an article on Museum De Lakenhal as networked museum was published.

read the article

Download the network poster Museum De Lakenhal commissioned in 2012. It displays the museum's cooperations in an orderly fashion.
Design: Ankie Stoutjesdijk

download the network poster

What is a network museum?

It gives a radical answer to the question of its right to exist
The museum does not cover the past, but the present
Meaning is key, not truth
It is not about timeless quality, but temporary values
It is not objective, but subjective
It does not think in target groups, but communities
The museum is by definition adventurous
It engages in a dialogue with its public

Arnoud Odding, author of The Disruptive Museum (2011)


The museum is a public institution. That is why Museum De Lakenhal tries to lift barriers if and when possible, before and behind the scenes; everyone is allowed to have a glimpse, think along and join in. This policy has been spread actively since 2010, when the complete collection was registered during the project 'Werk in uitvoering' (Work in Progress) in the exhibition rooms and in full view of the audience. The following year, the audience literally stepped into a work of art, the modern historical piece of photographer Erwin Olaf.

Conveyor belt on display during 'Work in Progress' 2010
Conveyor belt on display during 'Work in Progress' 2010 Foto: Marc de Haan


At an urban level, the museum cooperates with parties including the Municipality of Leiden, heritage institutions, museums and other cultural partners, Leiden University and Leiden Marketing.


The special and long-term cooperation 'Utopisch Nest' (Utopical Nest) (2011-2014) was an artistic cross-pollination between music theatre company De Veenfabriek and Museum De Lakenhal.

In 2013-14, artist Joost Rekveld worked on his project #47. He wondered how we would behave if we'd have a special sense to trace electrostatic or magnetic fields. Would we act differently? With this art project, Rekveld reacted on the exhibition UTOPIA: Expressionism & Constructivism 1900-1940 (2013-14) in Museum De Lakenhal and De Veenfabriek's year theme 'Strength/Future'.

Website Utopisch Nest

De Nacht van Kunst & Kennis (The Night of Art & Science)

Leiden presents itself as the city of the arts and expertise. Museum De Lakenhal promotes cooperation between artists and scientists. They propel each other onwards and add a unique dimension to the city. Since 2013, it has been celebrated throughout the city in the Nacht van Kunst & Kennis on the initiative of Museum De Lakenhal. Expertise is the leitmotiv of Leiden's identity, economy and society, both in the present and the past. But expertise is often hidden and not accessible to everyone. During the Night, the organisation will pulls out all the stops and everyone can learn and experience in a special manner, on a wide range of locations in Leiden.

The festival fits in with a trend: The Dutch are interested in science, as is evidenced by a host of new TV shows and many issues of non-specialist science magazines. The young and the old are invited during the Night to explore new expertise, art forms, ideas, rising bands, scientific inventions and dance and theatre performances.

Michiel van Poelgeest.
Michiel van Poelgeest.
Werk van Casper Faassen.
Werk van Casper Faassen.


In 1918, the Vereniging van Belangstellenden in De Lakenhal (VBL, Museum the Lakenhal Community of Interest) was founded in Leiden. This means that it is one of the oldest Communities of Interest in the Netherlands. The VBL is an accessible association of devotees of Museum De Lakenhal that has traditionally focussed on special acquisitions for the museum's collection. Its approximately 600 members (2014) make every effort to promote the awareness of Museum De Lakenhal in their network. A valuable community!

more about the Friends


The Lucas van Leyden Patronage is an inspiring and vivacious network for citizens and companies that are well disposed towards the city of Leiden in general and Museum De Lakenhal in particular. Museum De Lakenhal has a long tradition of private engagement. The museum was founded and opened in 1874 on the initiative of citizens from Leiden. Already by 1890, the museum could be extended with four splendid painting rooms, thanks to a gift by Mr. Hartevelt. In 1921, the immense Papevleugel (Pape Wing) was added to the museum thanks to funding by the Pape brothers. The museum wants to revive this tradition by the Lucas van Leyden Patronage

more about the Patronage
Board of the Lucas van Leyden Patronage
Board of the Lucas van Leyden Patronage

Meanwhile a group that consists of people from Leiden and its environs was formed; they are interested in the arts and history, have been inspired by the activities and plans of the museum and, last but not least, by each other. These members of the Patronage meet in Museum De Lakenhal a few times a year, e.g. during exhibition previews and events that have been organised for this group in particular. To them, Museum De Lakenhal has become a special, inspiring network location. We are very grateful for your engagement and support.

Mr. Drs. Elco Brinkman, Chair Lucas van Leyden Patronage & Drs. Meta Knol, Director Museum De Lakenhal


Also on a national scale the museum cooperates.


On commission of Museum De Lakenhal, choreographer Karin Post worked on a special interdisciplinary exhibition concept around the phenomenon and theme of pearls: 'PEARLS in the Arts, Nature & Dance'. Never before was an exhibition created that featured modern dance, contemporary art, cultural and natural history in mutual coherence. The exhibition weaved organically around the permanent collection of Museum De Lakenhal and was shaped as a theatrical story; by means of an audio tour – recorded by actor Pierre Bokma - visitors were guided along dance registrations, works of art and objects. Many of these works were purpose-made for this exhibition by illustrious names such as the Nationale Ballet, Marijke van Warmerdam, Leine | Roebana, Rob Birza, Koen Hauser, Peter Struycken and Berend Strik. As such, the origin, application, symbolism and interpretation history of pearls was approached from various perspectives.

more about PEARLS
PEARLS in the Arts, Nature & Dance
PEARLS in the Arts, Nature & Dance Museum De Lakenhal, 2012


On 27 February 2014, Wim Pijbes, Director of the Rijksmuseum and Meta Knol, Director of Museum De Lakenhal, signed a long-term cooperation agreement. The agreement includes the loan of Het Laatste Oordeel (The Last Judgment), the sixteenth-century master piece by Lucas van Leyden, to the Rijksmuseum.


Generous mutual loan-traffic is an important cornerstone of the cooperation. As of 2017, Museum De Lakenhal will permanently display part of the collection of the Rijksmuseum, after the restoration and extension of the seventeenth-century listed building.

It is wonderful that the master piece of the 16th century from Museum De Lakenhal will be on display alongside Rembrandt's master piece from the 17th century in the Rijksmuseum next year. We look forward to a fruitful cooperation between the two museums.

Wim Pijbes, Director Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Leiden as cradle of Dutch Painting

In spite of the difference in scale, both museums have much in common with regard to content in the fields of Dutch art, arts and crafts and history. The city of Leiden was the cradle of painting of the Dutch Golden Age: the young painters Rembrandt and Lievens grew up in the city, as did Jan Steen, Jan van Goyen, Gerrit Dou and the Leiden Fijnschilders. After their start in Leiden, they would all make careers for themselves in Amsterdam. The cooperation will take shape in mutual loan-traffic and in cooperation projects on sixteenth-century painting from Leiden, Leiden Lakenstad (City of Cloth) and Kunst & Wetenschap (Arts & Sciences).

These and other subjects will be further developed over the years by both museums. As such, the expertise on national heritage will be linked to the development of Leiden as one of the iconic ‘cities of Holland’ of the 16th and 17th century.

  1. The first project will focus on the presentation of the ‘Het Laatste Oordeel’ (The Last Judgment) by Lucas van Leyden in the Gallery of Honour of the Rijksmuseum. An in-depth material-technical examination will be carried out on paintings from Leiden from the sixteenth century that belong to the collections of both museums.
  2. Famous Amsterdam cloth merchants built their fortunes on the high-quality cloth fabric that was manufactured in Leiden. For the project Leiden Lakenstad, a joint historic research will be carried out into production and trade networks in Leiden and Amsterdam, which will focus on the relation between innovation and trade in the seventeenth century.
  3. Since 1575, the oldest university of the Netherlands has been located in Leiden. The third project is dedicated to the relation between the arts and science, for the purpose of exhibitions in Leiden and Amsterdam in 2019. Museum Boerhaave and Leiden University will also cooperate in this project.
Meta Knol (director Museum De Lakenhal) and Wim Pijbes (director Rijksmuseum) celebrate working together.
Meta Knol (director Museum De Lakenhal) and Wim Pijbes (director Rijksmuseum) celebrate working together. photo: Marc de Haan

Global Imaginations (27 June t/m 4 October 2015)

Twenty leading contemporary artists from all over the world were invited by Museum De Lakenhal to share their vision on today’s globalized world. To do so, they exhibited new or existing work that has been inspired by the extensive collections of Leiden’s many museums. The result: a fascinating reflection of actual themes and developments in the world that surrounds us. The exhibition - which includes room-filling installations, video projections, sculptures and more – was hosted in De Meelfabriek in Leiden, an abandoned and imposing industrial complex on the edge of the city.

Global Imaginations was organised to mark the 440th anniversary of Leiden University and brought art, culture and science together into a single exhibition. Since being founded in 1575, the university has attracted scholars and artefacts from all over the world. These have come together in Leiden to further our understanding of the world around us in all its shapes and forms, to which the city’s diverse collections of ancient artefacts, biological specimens, maps, art and history testify.

Global Imaginations was the result of a collaboration with Leiden University, Museum Volkenkunde and LeidenGlobal.

more about Global Imaginations

RembrandtLAB (from 2015)

What colors did Rembrandt use to make his timeless masterpieces? And how could today's designers be inspired by them? These questions are answered in RembrandtLAB. In 2016, the first results of this innovative color research were on display on various locations. Starting in the Rembrandt Lokaal in Leiden: the workshop on Langebrug 89, where young Rembrandt enjoyed his first painting lessons from his teacher Jacob van Swanenburgh. The presentation thereafter traveled on to Museum het RembrandtHuis in Amsterdam and the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. RembrandtLAB is a cooperation between Museum De Lakenhal, Museum het RembrandtHuis, Leiden Marketing and Cultuurfonds Leiden.

In 2015, Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters was the first designer team to be commissioned. They decided to work with ceramics and for four months, they researched this material and its potential in the Europees Keramisch Werk Centrum (EKWC). They aimed to find a way to reproduce Rembrandt's use of color and pigments, ingredients, recipes and color experience. How could this knowledge be reapplied today? Today's industry could learn from Rembrandt's legacy, for example to re-enrich colors. Therefor, Kolk and Kusters didn't develop end products, but recipes, color combinations and suggestions for usage.

website RembrandtLAB

Vele kleuren zijn uit het hedendaagse palet verdwenen en stabiel en constant gemaakt, zodat ze in iedere productie en oplage hetzelfde zijn. Hierdoor zijn kleuren vandaag de dag erg vlak geworden en wordt niet meer gewerkt met de fysische kwaliteiten in een kleur (iedere kleur is opgebouwd uit mineralen met mogelijkheden en beperkingen). De hedendaagse maakindustrie kan veel van het erfgoed van Rembrandt leren. Bijvoorbeeld om kleuren weer te verrijken.

Guus Kusters & Maarten Kolk

2016: top 3-series

In the summer of 2016, various people from the museum's network were asked after their personal top 3 from the collection. Graphic designer Robin Stam kicked the series off, followed by jazz musician Rembrandt Frerichs, chairman of the patronage Elco Brinkman and many others.

take a look at the top 3 series


American Friends of Museum De Lakenhal

In 2014, Museum De Lakenhal and the board of the Lucas van Leyden Patronage launched the 'American Friends of Museum De Lakenhal': a funding programme after American example. The programme was established together with the Dutch Consulate in New York and the Netherland-America Foundation. Until the end of 2018, all patron's gifts will be used for the Restoration and Expansion of Museum De Lakenhal


Leiden is the city that welcomed the Pilgrims prior to their famous voyage on the Mayflower in 1620. The foundation of the American Friends of Museum De Lakenhal is a call to American businesses and individuals to celebrate this shared history by establishing a sustainable relationship between the US and Leiden.

more about the American Friends
De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles
De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles Memorial Plate for the Dutch Pilgrim Father Commemoration (1920)