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Our building

The Drents Museum was established in 1854. What started out as a simple showcase filled with objects has grown into a showpiece museum. Did you know these facts about our buildings?

Drents Museum, est.1259

Almost a thousand years ago, Cistercian nuns laid the foundations of the Drents Museum. In 1259, the Bishop of Utrecht gave them permission to build a new nunnery on the current museum site. The chapel of this nunnery was later extended into an abbey church. The medieval cloister bricks are still visible in the walls - one and a half-metre thick - of this ‘Abdijkerk’.

Primeval Drent

National architect Jacobus van Lokhorst was responsible for constructing the ‘Provinciehuis’, the new provincial government building, starting in 1882. Lokhorst’s personal attention was mainly on the façade facing the Brink. He believed that the character of Drenthe did not suit a lot of ornamentation. What is there is thus quite conspicuous, particularly the Germanic warrior at the top of the façade. This ‘primeval Drent’ covered in animal skin carries the spear of Odin, the god of war, in his left hand and the hammer of Thor, the god of thunder and lightning, in his right hand. This heroic figure illustrates the venerable age of the province of Drenthe. The statue was made in the workshop of Pierre Cuypers, the architect of the Rijksmuseum and Central Station in Amsterdam.

A graphic novel ‘avant-la-lettre’

The ‘Statenzaal’ (Estates Hall) is without doubt the finest room in the Drents Museum. It is lavishly decorated, and its most striking feature are the wall paintings by Austrian painter Georg Sturm. Five scenes illustrate the history of Drenthe: the construction of a hunebed (megalithic tomb), Charlemagne conquering Drenthe, Emperor Henry granting Drenthe to the Bishop of Utrecht and the preparations for establishing the privilege of the county in 1648. These five paintings can be regarded as a graphic novel ‘avant-la-lettre’.

Darkness and light

Today visitors to the Drents Museum enter the building through a coach house dating from the late 18th century. When the new exhibition wing was built, this coach house was lifted up and moved out of the way in one piece. When the builders were finished, it was put back again, on a glass plinth 65 cm high to let daylight enter the underground museum spaces and give passers-by an opportunity to look inside. If you look around the entrance hall carefully, you can still see the mangers for feeding the horses.

Studio DM

Our museum has an artist residence in Assen. Artists can stay here temporarily to be inspired by the environment, our museum and the exhibitions that are on display at that time.

Studio DM