The Fries Museum, which opened in 1881, has its roots in the Royal Frisian Society, which was founded in 1827 with the aim of anchoring Frisian identity. Thanks to countless donations, the collection soon grew into the largest collection of artworks and cultural heritage in the northern provinces of the Netherlands. The museum’s temporary exhibitions are almost always based on part of its own rich collection.
Besides its major archaeological collection, with the iconic Wijnaldum brooch as pièce de resistance, the Fries Museum boasts a highly diverse collection of applied arts, with highlights including Frisian silver from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The primary showpiece here is the seventeenth-century Popta Treasure, in which prints by Goltzius, Tempesta, and Van Vianen are recognizable in the chased silver. In addition to hundreds of portraits of Frisian nobles and patricians, unique textiles, glassware, and stained glass from their houses and estates also ended up in the Fries Museum.
Besides the topographical collection known as “Aengaande Friesland,” the Fries Museum also possesses many drawings and paintings by eminent Dutch and Flemish artists, including a large vanitas by Dirck de Horn and a drawing by Hendrick Goltzius.
Jenny van Calsbeek, Curator of Fine Arts Intern (February 2023)