July 2021. A week after my Eindhoven escapade featuring the DAF Museum and a night at Hotel Mariënhage, I travelled to Utrecht for a culinary weekend with Steve. At that time, the Netherlands were very liberal concerning coronavirus countermeasures. That was both concerning and liberating at the time.
Founded in 1838, the museum has a wide-ranging collection, mainly of works produced locally. The collection of the paintings by the Northern Mannerist Joachim Anthoniszoon Wtewael is by a long way the largest anywhere in the world. Other highlights are many significant paintings by the Utrecht Caravaggisti, such as Gerard van Honthorst and Hendrick ter Brugghen. Both of them travelled to Rome in the early 17th century to study the works of the Italian master Caravaggio. In the previous generation, as well as Wtewael, Abraham Bloemaert and the portraitist Paulus Moreelse were the most significant Utrecht painters, with Jan van Scorel still earlier.
Since 2006, the museum also runs the Miffy Museum or nijntje museum (nijntje is written with a minuscule), a museum across the street dedicated to Dick Bruna and his rabbit character Miffy.
It also runs the Rietveld Schröder House, a famous Modernist house built in 1924 by the Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld for Mrs. Truus Schröder-Schräder and her three children, which is now owned by the museum and open to the public.
“Amongst the highlights of the museum is the one-thousand-year-old ‘Utrecht Ship‘. The ship is part of the collection ‘Stadsgeschiedenis‘. The ship was found in 1930 near the Van Hoornekade in Utrecht and was put in the cellar of the 16th-century part of the museum building”, Wikipedia says.
Uhm. Okay. We didn’t know, so we missed it. The website says it’s located in Expo 11. It’s not on the map we received. The museum calls its rooms ‘Expo’.
So we seem to have missed quite a lot. We did see Bruna’s office, replicated from his own attic. That was our main attraction. The rest caught our attention to a lesser extend.
The lay-out is difficult to follow and the COVID-19 secure route was difficult to impossible tp follow. Hence we missed quite a few items, it seems.
We, or I should say I, had a snack at the café. Everything had cheese, which Steve can’t handle. The café is nice and features a rainbow carpet in honour of Utrecht’s rainbow crossing.
So no, we weren’t awed by the museum. It’s a decent museum, for sure.
But I felt what I feel at other city museums such Museum Aan de Stroom (MAS) in Antwerp or Münchner Stadtmuseum – Munich City Museum: the collections is a bunch of items the curators are obliged to work with.
Am I being harsh? Perhaps. But for 15 euros per person I expected more.