Museum Catharijneconvent

Museum Catharijneconvent

The Museum Catharijneconvent was founded in 1979 and is a state museum for Christian art and culture in the Netherlands. The main collection consists of several older episcopal, ecclesiastical and monastic exhibits.

The Museum is in the city center of Utrecht, located in the middle of the Netherlands. The museum also holds responsibilities around the country, for example regarding the work of heritage specialists of the museum, who are also responsible for advising and assisting all churches and convents on their interior and movable religious heritage, therefore carrying out activities all around the Netherlands.

Currently the museum showcases exhibitions (Collection of approximately 80.000 items) on a variety of Christian themes, such as the virgin Mary, Martin Luther, miracles and relics. The heritage specialists draw up inventory lists of ecclesiastical collections throughout the country (approximately 800.000 items in 6.000 building), give out validations for this heritage and advise on the appointment of heritage in the case of the ceasing of religious functions. They are also the initiator of “The Largest Museum of the Netherlands” with a cooperation with sixteen churches and synagogues in the country.

These locations are all being used for religious services, but besides that are more and more positioning themselves as “museums”: beautiful buildings with splendid interiors that are worth a visit by people with or without a religious background. They are also developing ways to improve the visitor’s experience (audio tour, brochure, movie, website, desk with friendly volunteers).

In the Netherlands there has been a ‘separation’ between church and state for quite some time, but not anymore. Nowadays, all stakeholders are discussing the future and threats facing  religious heritage. Museum Catharijneconvent is involved in this process, drawing attention to the religious interiors and their significance and meaning for all Dutch people.

Looking into the future and due to the rapid secularisation a lot of churches are forced to close their doors. Their main goal is to be involved in every closure to have the opportunity to keep and conserve the most valuable church interiors and religious objects. At the same time, a lot of churches are preparing themselves for additional functions by transforming their buildings or interiors.

For all those churches that want to become more appealing to cultural visitors, The Museum Catharijneconvent is open to welcome and share their experience and knowhow.

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