Museum of the Spirit | Dolhuys reopened after a major renovation. The museum presents personal stories at the intersection of mental health, art and science. The museum is located in the old Pest, Dol and Leproos houses of the city of Haarlem. Architects Verlaan & Bouwstra in Kossmanndejong seized the necessary architectural renovation of the monumental complex to also improve the logistics and functionality of the museum.
Museum of the Spirit | Dolhuys comprises at least ten different construction elements. They came into being at different times and each had its own function of caring for the people sheltering there. The complex is home to the only dolcel remaining in the Netherlands. As a museum, the old care complex has never been ideal. The cultural and architectural-historical value is evident, but a well-organized museum route was difficult to fit into the sequence of parts of historic buildings.
Entry into the home
Located between the two interior gardens, the entrance and the foyer form a new heart for the museum. Several 20th century extensions of the chapel and treatment room, the oldest parts of the complex from the 14th and 15th centuries, have been removed to allow for this new construction. The entrance to the museum is next to the chapel, as it was in the Middle Ages. The adjacent foyer provides access as a pivot point to the museum café in the chapel, the auditorium in the park room and the start of the renewed museum route in the treatment room.
The closed character of the complex is preserved
The entrance and foyer join parts of the historic building like missing puzzle pieces, but thanks to a contemporary design they also have their own unique look. By deliberately positioning the entrance behind the garden wall, the closed character of the complex is preserved. The door in the wall and the canopies protruding from the garden wall ensure that the new entrance is always recognizable from a distance. The entrance and foyer are made up of horizontal awnings and vertical wings, creating a layering that matches the historically developed character of the complex. Canopies and wings provide a sheltered reception, guide visitors to the foyer, and provide views of the surrounding monumental buildings.
New construction in a contemporary design
The omission of the glass roof in the upper reception area of the foyer emphasizes the difference between circulation and living space. A special eave detail ensures that the glass facade “protrudes” towards the interior garden and improves the relationship between interior and exterior. The new building has a contemporary design, but its materialization (stone, wood and steel) corresponds to medieval buildings. The baffles, walls and ceilings consist of a partially open slatted structure made of natural padauk wood, matching the untreated oak of the imposing medieval farmhouses of the chapel and treatment room. Dark gray aluminum and steel windows, eaves and wall frames fit perfectly between existing wall anchors and gray roof slates.
Readable museum trail
The museum route has been reversed compared to the situation before the renovation. In collaboration with Kossmanndejong, an exhibition design was produced in which the different themes of the museum’s journey (me-you-us-them) connect with the character of the space in which they are located. Special places in the resort serve as landmarks along the way. Closed windows were opened in various places. Thanks to the new entrance and the new foyer, the two interior gardens are also an integral part of the museum’s route. The entrance garden is informally furnished and offers space for an exhibition. The foyer garden functions as a classic, walled herb garden more like a living space.
Restoration of the chapel, the treatment room and the park room
The character of the monumental spaces has been highlighted. The historic floors, walls and ceilings have been restored. In the chapel, a mezzanine installed in 1927 has been removed, so that the beautiful beam structure of the hood and the pointed arch window (with glass collage by artists Jennifer Tee and Jonas Ohlsson) are again fully visible. The accessibility of the chapel has been increased by bringing the ground level with the rest of the complex. In order to keep the 1463 treatment room safe, the original trellis construction has been completely restored. Wood affected by fungi and variegated rodent weevil was removed and replaced with new oak. In the museum concept, the treatment room functions as a space for temporary exhibitions.
The park room has been restored to accommodate an auditorium that can accommodate up to 100 people. Modern ceilings have been removed, making the original 18th century ceiling with wooden parts visible for the first time in centuries. During the restoration, the advice of the Heritage Department of the Municipality of Haarlem was gratefully used.
Museum of the Spirit | Dolhuys was opened by Queen Máxima on November 24, 2020.
Tags: Kossmann.dejong, museum, restoration, architects Verlaan & Bouwstra