Sunday, 24 March 2013

Mysterious Ming at the Museum Princessehof

Mysterious Ming is an exhibition at the Museum Princessehof which runs until 27th October 2013. Below is information about the museum. Click here for full details on our exhibitions page and scroll to 24 March.

The Museum Princessehof collection is the most important collection of Asian ceramics in the Netherlands. It is housed in three historical buildings in Leeuwarden, the capital of the province of Friesland. They served in the eighteenth century as the residence of the German princess Maria-Louise von Hessen-Kassel (1688-1765), who married Johan Willem Friso of Oranje-Nassau (1687-1711) in 1709. A beautiful period room, decorated with Oriental porcelain displayed in the contemporary fashionable style of Daniel Marot and once the original dining room of Marie-Louise, has been preserved. It was only in the twentieth century that these building were used as a museum.

The museum was opened to the public in 1917 and was meant to foster the arts and crafts traditions which united Europe and Asia. The collections displayed there were based on the broad and profuse collections of a notary public from Leeuwarden, Nanne Ottema (1874-1955) and his wife Grietje Kingma (1873-1950). Already as a young man Nanne Ottema had developed a lively interest in a broad range of collectibles, which grew to some 25,000 to 30,000 items according to his own estimate. His interests lay particularly in Friesian cultural heritage and Asian ceramics. Nanne Ottema became the museum’s first director and continued in this position until his death in 1955. His interests in Chinese ceramics lead him to begin systematic research on this subject. In 1943, his Handbook of Chinese Ceramics was published.

With his passion and his broad network of friends, dealers and collector, he had amassed at that time some 4,000 pieces of Asian ceramics. A collection of Chinese ceramics from the Ming period (1368-1644) in particular is of outstanding quality and forms the core of the collection.

In 1973 Keramiekmuseum Princessehof reopened as a museum exclusively devoted to ceramics –Asian as well as European- as the Nationale Nederlands Keramiekmuseum, the Netherlands National Museum of Ceramics.