Centraal Museum Utrecht, an open house to explore and discover. From Scorel to Bruna to Viktor & Rolf, from Rietveld to the Utrecht Caravaggists, and from Bloemaert to Marlene Dumas. Classical alongside modern, design alongside Utrecht history, experimental alongside monumental. A museum which leaves you inspired time after time. Expect the unexpected.
Centraal Museum, the oldest municipal
museum in the Netherlands, has been housed in a medieval cloister on the
Nicolaaskerkhof since 1921. It contributes to the name Museum Quarter, given to
this district in the centre of Utrecht. At one stage, the St Agnes Convent was
(partially) used as an orphanage, military stables and psychiatric hospital.
The ‘Stedelijk Museum van Oudheden’
(Municipal Museum of Antiquities), predecessor of the Centraal Museum, had
previously been housed in an elegant mansion on Biltstraat. Founded in 1830, it
originally only filled a few rooms on the top floor of this Utrecht town hall.
The museum currently consists of an
eclectic collection of buildings with a large courtyard at their centre. These
have frequently been adapted and expanded over the years. The last major
renovation – design of Flemish architects Stéphane Beel, Lieven Achtergael and
Peter Versseput – took place in 1999. The Utrecht architect Mart van Schijndel
provided the museum with an expansion at the end of the eighties.
Although the Centraal Museum unmistakably
has its roots in Utrecht history and would not readily deny these, the museum
prefers to look to the horizon: to the future and to national and international
trends. Current fashion, design and visual art are high on the agenda, together
with exchange of ideas and debate.
The Centraal Museum collection consists of
more than 50,000 objects, which cannot easily be placed under one umbrella.
This diverse collection, passing from discipline to discipline and through
different periods and styles, ranges from contemporary drawings to historical
costumes, and from abstract paintings to antiquities, but also contains the
Centraal Museum Chair by Richard Hutten (1999) and the Utrecht Ship (ca
Quite naturally, Centraal Museum is home to
Utrecht artists Dick Bruna and Gerrit Rietveld. However, works by Utrecht
Caravaggists Gerard Honthorst and Hendrick ter Brugghen – followers of the
Italian painter Caravaggio (1571-1610) – just as equally provide the museum
with that international seal of approval. Together with Abraham Bloemaert and
Jan van Scorel, these artists took the traditional art in North-Holland to a
far greater level.
Another good reason for making your way to
the museum is Pyke Koch’s magical surrealism, and also the surrealism of Joop
Moesman. The latter was responsible for Utrecht being the epicentre of
surrealism during the thirties and forties of the 20th century.