Christianity Art Museum, Utrecht

The best Dutch collection, Roman Catholicism to Calvinism, exhibited in a former nun’s convent: Catharijneconvent

Detail of a mediaeval manuscript. It requires a close-up look.

A Monstrance, intended to display the Holy Wafer in High Mass. This one was stolen, damaged and retrieved. Usually newspapers jump on such a subject.

Utrecht is the key religious center of Catholicism in the Netherlands, and it still is the seat of the Roman Catholic archbishop. Right in the center of Utrecht, we find the large Cathedral / Duomo (Dom) with its 110 meter high tower – and close by, on a beautiful tranquil canal, we find the most important museum of Christianity in the Netherlands. Named Catharijne convent, it exhibits objects from various religious branches in well designed spacious galleries.

This museum is unique in that it combines all christian movements and branches of faith under one roof as a show of visual riches and pluriformity. It has the nations’s best Mediaeval collection.

As a guide, I am well informed about the branches of Christianity here.

During many ages, different Christian groups like Roman Catholics and Protestants fought like cats and dogs, and were even completely separated socially in terms of church, school, political party, radio station, newspaper. This ‘apartheid’ was called Pillarization, or Verzuiling. As a boy growing up in the 1950s and 1960s I still lived in that segregated world. By contrast, this museum shows an ecumenical spirit.

Roman Catholic faith and the Old Catholic faiths have yielded most resplendent objects as these faith are very visually oriented. There has also been a rich Catholic religious life which had to go practically underground between the 1570s and 1850.

Dutch Reformed faith is mostly a bible-centered faith and therefore has less dramatic objects to show, visually, buth faith is strong: Solo Fides, Grace by Faith Only.

Catharijneconvent Utrecht, sculptor Claus de Werve, detail.

Petrus, detail of a statue of around 1410, now in Catharijneconvent Utrecht. The maker, sculptor Claus de Werve followed his uncle, the famous Claus Sluter at the Burgundy court in Dijon. This sculpture still has its colour. Most oak sculptures were stripped to blank oak in the 19th century to make them marketable.

After the 1960, the attendance in churches on Sunday morning has dramatically decreased in The Netherlands.

 

Take a walk in the historic inner city of Utrecht!

Tour by Drs Kees Kaldenbach, a professional Art History scholar with excellent teaching skills. Specialist in Fine art and Design, Architecture and History. VIP entry.

Drs Kees Kaldenbach: „…he is wildly overqualified to be a guide . That is his secret… Trust me on this.” Gabe. Statement made February, 2017.

First big hall, with to the right a Middle Rhine altarpiece of around 1400.

Inner courtyard.

Rembrandt: Baptism of the Eunuch, detail.

St Gregory Mass with the tools of blood and pain around Christ.

Wooden sculptures, by the Master of Elsloo.

 

 

One of the more chilling objects: the strangling shawl with which Cunera was murdered. She became a saint.

Business card. The logo refers to Vermeer.

HOW TO GET THERE

Utrecht is easy to reach with public transport, by train half an hour from Amsterdam. I hold a Dutch Railways rebate card. For this train tour I can offer you a special rebate of 40% for three separate adult railway tickets. This makes it economical for you as clients. I can join you from your hotel or from the Amsterdam train station.

Various other options are open to you: a) You can hire a car and drive it yourself, and I will join you starting in Amsterdam and will advise you about the best route. b) We can hire a professional taxibus service at around E 70 per hour for about 4 to 5 hours. On top of that you will pay me as the specialist guide. This is the more expensive option.