Both the collection and the museum were initiatives of the collector Nanne Ottema who was granted permission to use the former palace of Princess Mary Louise van Hessen-Kassel (the current Princessehof) by the municipality of Leeuwarden in 1917. The collections were expanded during the 20th century.
Today, the museum houses around 35,000 objects. The emphasis is on Asian, European and contemporary ceramics. The museum owns the largest and most varied collection of Chinese porcelain in the Netherlands and displays a rich and multifaceted overview of Dutch Art Nouveau and Art Deco ceramics from the period 1880 to 1930. The collection has some absolute highlights such as the Chinese Imperial porcelain and a sculpture by Karel Appel.