In the seventeenth century, proud, newly rich citizens loved to have their portraits painted. A portrait didn’t just have to be a good likeness but also had to convey the person’s social status. Five times Frans Hals was given the very important commission to paint the civic guard. He had an unrivalled ability to portray the members of the civic guard as a cohesive, animated group. With loose strokes, he caught the essence of his patrons with great precision.

Hals’s work continued to be very influential in the nineteenth century as demonstrated by visits to Haarlem by impressionists such as Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet, who visited especially to admire the portraits of the regents and regentesses of the Old Men's Almshouse from 1664.

The Frans Hals Museum is situated in a picturesque listed building, which served as an old men’s home from 1609. Frans Hals himself must have also walked around here when painting the group portraits of the regents of the Old Men’s Almshouse. The museum exhibits the largest number of portraits by Hals, including the unique and world-famous portraits of the civic guard and regents. In addition, the museum also boasts numerous top pieces by other famous Haarlem artists such as Goltzius, Ruisdael and Saenredam. Enjoy strolling around the stunning regents’ rooms, characteristic dining room and the exceptionally delightful courtyard garden.