Secreted away in quiet Den Haag sidestreet, the Panorama Mesdag is the star exhibit at its eponymous museum. The largest painting in the Netherlands is an enormous 360-degree “cyclorama” of the coastal resort of Scheveningen as it was in 1881, painted by Hague School artist Hendrik Willem Mesdag. At more than 45 feet high and 400 feet in length, the landscape is a masterly exercise in perspective.
The sea, sand dunes, buildings, churches, lighthouses and fishing boats of 19th-century Scheveningen are all represented in minute, accurate detail, and when viewed from the observation gallery in the center of the exhibition room, artificial dunes separate viewers from the painting, creating an illusion that you could step right into the landscape. Although Mesdag was a much-respected figure in the world of Dutch art, this is undoubtedly his marine masterpiece, produced with help from his wife Sientje and several other artists. It is the only “cyclorama” of its time still on display at its original site.
As well as the Mesdag family collection of 19th-century landscapes and Brabazon School works, temporary exhibitions are also held in the gallery – often retrospectives of contemporary Dutch artists.
The Panorama Mesdag is an easy 10-minute walk from the center of the city. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is €10 for adults, €8.50 for students, €5 for children ages 4-11.