The Maria Chapel was built in 1506-8 to replace a wooden chapel which was consecrated in 1435. At the time the chapel was part of a monastery situated in the ancillary buildings around the courtyard. The Reformation, which reached Hoorn in 1572, marked the end of many monasteries in the Netherlands, and so also in Hoorn. In 1573 the Council of Delegates of West-Friesland started using the chapel as arsenal. The building was used as such until the end of the eighteenth century. From 1825 till 1877 the chapel was used as a Roman Catholic Church. A number of renovations were done during this period, including the construction of the present entrance on the Korte Achterstraat.
On July 1, 1877 a large fire occurred in the Catharina Chapel, the Maria Chapel, and in the adjacent orphanage, which was preserved with great difficulty. Of the Maria Chapel, only the walls and the entrance on the Korte Achterstraat were spared. The vault, roof and tower are completely destroyed. In 1882 the Reformed Church took over the ruins, built the current roof and made other repairs in order for the chapel to be used again. In 1976 the chapel is again in the hands of the municipality of Hoorn. That year the chapel was briefly used by local youth as a disco and boxing school. After the youngsters left the building, the Maria Chapel waned once again.
This all changed when in 1983 a group of artists started using the building, organising activities and opening it to the public. In the nineties the building has undergone its last major renovation and assumed its current form. From 1996 until 2002 the Sandberg Institute, the Masters of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, used the chapel and the adjacent buildings (the former orphanage) as an exhibition space and guesthouse for students. It was in this period that the sculpture on the roof was made by Florian Göttke and Sabine Käppler, which to this day is a true eye-catcher and a well known landmark in Hoorn. In 2003 artists Daniëlle van Zuylen and Bart Lodewijks took over the guesthouse/exhibition space construction under the newly established ‘Stichting Kunstenaarsinitiatief Hotel Mariakapel (HMK)’. Since its founding in 2003 the leadership has been transferred to a different team every three to four years. HMK has been lead by Daniel Dennis de Wit and Jantine Wijnja, Josine Siderius, Wouter Sibum and Bas Hendrikx. Since 2014 HMK is directed by Irene de Craen and Steve Scheirsen, who undertake the artistic and financial leadership respectively.
Now HMK is an internationally well known place where artists from all over the world come for a period of research, reflection and production of new work. Its special location is both inspiration and motivation for the creation of experimental contemporary art projects which couldn’t take place anywhere else.