CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The Lost Museum

Exhibition: 12 September 2024 - 5 January 2025

Until 1875 there were not just one, but two museums to located in the Mauritshuis. On the upper floor, there was the Royal Cabinet of Paintings. Those artworks still remain there. The ground floor, however, was completely filled with thousands of objects. This part of the museum was called the Royal Cabinet of Curiosities.

The Royal Cabinet of Curiosities was a major attraction. From floor to ceiling, it was packed with over 10,000 fascinating objects, including antiques, porcelain, clothing, weapons, miniatures, and other unique items from around the world.

A cartoon showing the Cabinet of Curiosities from 1843 by H.F.C. ten Kate uit ‘Physiologie van Den Haag door een Hagenaar’ (The Hague City Archives)

The cabinet’s exact appearance is unknown, but one drawing provides an impression. While not an exact representation, it shows, for example, a canoe that was actually suspended from the ceiling. After more than 140 years, this exhibition will recreate a part of the Cabinet of Curiosities at its original location for a limited time only.

Our way of thinking about the objects has often changed significantly through the years. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through such changes. Through the stories behind the objects, visitors learn more about the early beginnings of the Dutch national identity, colonial history, and cultural stereotypes. These themes are closely linked to the fascinating history of the Mauritshuis.