Closing a decade of planning, restoration and remodeling, on 28 March the Mayor of The Hague officially ‘reopened’ the oldest panorama in the world in its original rotunda, housing the magical marine Panorama of Scheveningen, that was opened on 1 August 1881 on Zeestraat 65.
By acquiring the adjacent building, the museum almost doubled its original exhibition floor space, expanded temporary exhibition space and state-of-the art public amenities. A glass roof lets in a lot of the light in the new section, which includes a museum café and a shop. Staying open at all times except three days, and with help of many cultural charity foundations and the city, the panorama family business lived through a rough time during almost ten years. The panorama now is ready to host above its long standing average of 150.000 visitors annually.
In a special exhibition, running through Sunday 4 October 2015, Panorama Mesdag is showing works by Hendrik Willem Mesdag and Sientje Mesdag-van Houten drawn from the international, private collections of the couple’s family descendants. Hendrik Willem Mesdag and Sientje Mesdag-van Houten were family-minded people. Many family events were captured by the artist couple and, because of their intimate nature, these works never came onto the art market.
A large number of family-owned works were initially purchased by descendants at the 1916 estate sale of Mesdags house and they went their own ways around the world, passing from generation to generation. So Panorama Mesdag is very proud to have been able to bring together major works and show them to the public, many for the first time. The exhibition is being accompanied by a catalogue with essays by art historians Suzanne Veldink, who conducted research on the family-owned artworks, providing a novel and richer understanding of Mesdag’s body of work, and Evelien de Visser researched the settlement of Mesdag’s estate by his descendants. Panorama Mesdag and Scriptum Art, ISBN 978 90 5594 984 7, 72 pages (in Dutch), price € 14,95.
Mesdag and his wife Sientje had an exceptional collection of 19th-century art in their own private museum, which they donated in 1903 to the Dutch State, today known as The Mesdag Collection (Laan van Meerdervoort 7). The collection contains masterpieces by the French Barbizon School and the Hague School. It now has a rare collection of watercolors of The Hague School on view.
Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915) is also very esteemed for his contribution to the artists association Pulchri Studio, which he presided from 1889 to 1907. He realized the purchase of the building at Lange Voorhout 15, which is still the seat of the association, giving ample space to exhibitions and meetings. Pulchri Studio underlines the strong ties to the Mesdag couple with two exhibitions: ‘Mesdag & Pulchri’ from the archives, and ‘Remembering Mesdag’, with work of contemporary members.
Until 6 August illuminated panels in the Atrium of The Hague City Hall provide more explanation about the lives of the extraordinary panoramist couple H.W. Mesdag and his wife Sientje Mesdag-van Houten.