Coordinates: 52° 23′ 1″ N, 4° 38′ 31″ E
Haarlem, in the past usually Harlem in English, is the capital of the province of North Holland, the northern half of Holland, which at one time was the most powerful of the seven provinces of the Netherlands. Haarlem lies in the northern part of the Randstad, the sixth-largest metropolitan area in Europe. The city is located on the Spaarne River, about 20 km west of Amsterdam and near the coastal dunes. It has been the historical centre of the tulip bulb-growing district for centuries and bears the nickname “Bloemenstad”, for this reason. There are several museums in Haarlem. The Teylers Museum lies on the Spaarne River and is the oldest museum of the Netherlands. Its main subjects are art, science and natural history. The museum owns a number of works by Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Another museum is the Frans Hals Museum, which is famed for its fine collection of arts.
The Frans Hals Museum was established in 1862. In 1950, the museum was split in two locations when the collection of modern art was moved to the Museum De Hallen. The main collection, including its famous 17th century Frans Hals paintings, for which the museum is named, is located in the former Oude Mannenhuis on the Groot Heiligland.
The museum was founded in 1862 in the newly renovated former Dominican church cloisters located in the back of the Haarlem city hall known as the Prinsenhof, and when it needed more space, it moved to the recently vacated location of the town orphanage in 1913. The collection is based on the large number of paintings owned by the City of Haarlem, which includes over 100 artworks seized from Catholic churches in the 1580s after the Protestant Reformation, and Haarlem art rescued from demolished local buildings from the 15th century onwards.