Utrecht’s Convent Girls

Catharijneconvent Museum
The other week, as part of the national Museum Weekend, we finally went to visit the Museum Catharijneconvent. From the museum’s website: “Originally built in the 16th century as a monastery for members of the Order of the Knights of St. John, it was named after Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The monastery’s infirmary eventually became Utrecht’s first teaching hospital while the Catharijneconvent was subsequently used for a wide variety of purposes.” It wasn’t until 1979 that it eventually became a museum, officially opened by Queen Juliana. The museum contains historical and art-historical exhibits, with pieces ranging from reliquaries to clothing to works of art dating from the medieval period to contemporary art. In fact, some of the contemporary pieces were quite impressive on their own.

Quadrants

I didn’t take photos inside, so all I’ve got are photos of the various parts of the interior of the convent grounds, which are quite beautiful and interesting on their own. If you enjoy religious art and can read Dutch, the actual museum is worth a visit. The information that goes with each piece is only in Dutch, so keep that in mind. If you’re interested from an art-historical perspective, rather than a purely religious perspective, it may seem to lack detail and information on the artistic aspect of the pieces. The information given tends to be specifically about the religious story/history being depicted. It’s still interesting and worth a visit, but if nothing else, I recommend a visit just to look around the central quad to admire the buildings, garden, and the general layout. All of that is open for view and doesn’t require a ticket. They also have an indoor/outdoor cafĂ©, which might be a nice place to stop on a lovely spring/summer day.

In the meantime, here are somemany of the photos I took of the grounds. They maintain the older structures beautifully, but I like the way they add in some of the necessary modern additions, including the glass walkway. It serves a purpose, while not completely blocking the view of the old buildings.
Modern Connection

Lente

Picturesque

Step Right Up

A Pause

Catharijne Convent

Fietsen

Tracery

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10 thoughts on “Utrecht’s Convent Girls

    • After studying Renaissance art, I got pretty good at picking out the saints by their symbols, despite not being Catholic myself. :) Recognizing the symbolism, stories, and saints being depicted was a lot of fun.

  1. Yes it’s a beautiful museum, I used to visit it often for classes when I was studying Medieval History at uni. They also have new exhibitions quite frequently. I once visited a relic exhibition there (that was combined with an exhibition at the Westerkerk in Amsterdam). Stunning medieval artwork.

    • It was fascinating seeing how ornate and amazing some of the pieces, including the reliquary pieces, were. I loved the “kelder” display hall in darkness except for the lights around the individual pieces. Wonderful display!

  2. If you want to see some real convent girls, there’s a convent at Nieuwegracht. You can often see little old nuns dressed in habits shuffle about there :-)

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