In 1743 Sjoerd Hannema came to live here. His son Jan Hannema (1746-1825) was a gin distiller, his distillery was behind the house. You can still see the foundations of the distillery in the museum. The oldest parts of the house date from around 1545 and the magnificent facades that can still be seen date from 1744 and 1825. The Hannemas exploited salt shacks where raw salt was refined. In the early twentieth century the Hannemas also traded in dried fruit and in the back room of the house there was a branch of the Netherlands Bank.
The last inhabitant, Leendert Jacobus Hannema (1889-1964) founded the museum in the former office of Sjoerd Hannema. After his death in 1964 the front of the house also came into use as a museum and the property was bequeathed to the Municipality of Harlingen to ensure its continuation. The museum has a permanent exhibition and also organizes various temporary exhibitions.