It is quite a special experience having a museum nearly for yourself. At the moment you have to buy a ticket beforehand, so you never know. It was my very first visit to one of the Museumhuizen of the Vereniging Hendrick de Keyser, and honestly I wouldn’t mind visiting more of them, as it was quite a pleasant surprise. The people working at the museum were very friendly too.
Having made an appointment for 1pm on 20 June to visit the Museumhuis van Eysinga in Leeuwarden it turned out I was the only visitor at that hour. They let in a maximum of six people. As it remained quiet I was able to take my time and I spent nearly two hours in the house. At the end of the visit I was even offered tea with a few biscuits. Very welcome as I had skipped lunch.
In 1774 the Frisian nobleman Frans van Eysinga inherited a house at a prominent spot in the Koningsstraat from his grandfather Johan Vegelin van Claerbergen. He had it renovated and connected to a few houses next-door in 1781. The building at the corner was acquired in 1797. And in 1806 the Van Eysingas let the architect connect all buildings they possessed on that spot. Both on the outside and on the inside the Louis XVI style was used. Although the family had their main seat in the countryside – the Osinga State in Langweer – the town house was regularly used in the winter until it was sold in 1879 to the “Provinciaal Friesch Genootschap ter Beoefening van Friesche Geschied-, Oudheid- en Taalkunde”. Two years later the Fries Museum was opened in the building, that is now a national monument. Between 1895 and 1907 the house was even extended in neo-renaissance style.
The Fries Museum moved in 2013 and in 2014 the house was handed over to the Vereniging Hendrick de Keyser. They renovated the house, discovered old rooms for staff, researched the original colours. Since November 2018 part of it is a museum, there are appartments (unfortunately too expensive for me) and you can hire rooms for events.
There are many original details in the house, while for example the beautiful wall painting in the room in which I was received, has been reconstructed by Bert Jonker based on an old painting of the family from 1787. The space was only opened in April this year, when the museum had closed because of Covid-19, and therefore only opened in June 2020. In another room are family portraits, while the late jonkheer Cees van Eysinga and his wife Clara, as well as their son Tjalling, who is the present head of the family, are honoured in another room. I loved that you are allowed to touch about everything – just mind the small cards hanging everywhere – and are allowed to sit on the chairs. The audio tour is quite nice with short, clear texts, that are not boringly long or go into detail too much.