The Centraal Museum in Utrecht is the oldest municipal museum in the Netherlands and is where you will find the largest collection of Gerrit Rietveld’s designs in the world, paintings by old masters such as the Utrecht Caravaggists, and illustrations by Dick Bruna, creator of Miffy.
- Find the largest collection of Gerrit Rietveld works in the world.
- Step into the studio of Dick Bruna, creator of Miffy, or visit the Miffy museum.
- Visit the architectural highlight of De Stijl: the Rietveld-Schröder House.
The Centraal Museum in Utrecht
Utrecht’s Centraal Museum began as the Municipal Museum of Antiquities in 1838. It took up residence in the Agnes Convent on Nicolaaskerkhof in approximately 1921, with private collectors adding their artefacts to the town collection, creating one ‘central’ museum for the city to enjoy.
Today it is recognised as home to some of the most prestigious art and artefacts in the Netherlands, with the museum re-opened since April 2016 following three years of extensive renovations and expansion.
The Centraal Museum is perhaps best known for housing the largest encounter Gerrit Rietveld collection in the world – almost 3,000 objects. Rietveld was a Dutch designer whose progressive approach to architecture and furniture earned him global recognition. The museum is also home to Studio Dick Bruna, the design studio of the local author and illustrator behind the iconic Miffy.
With a strong focus on contemporary art, design and fashion, the Centraal Museum beautifully showcases the art, history and culture of Utrecht, most notably in the permanent collection ‘The World of Utrecht’, highlighting top items from its five collections. The museum has always taken a forward-thinking approach and once famously commissioned fashion designers Viktor and Rolf to design the attendants’ uniforms.
Miffy, also known in Dutch as Nijntje, is illustrator/author Dick Bruna’s most famous creation, capturing the imagination of young minds around the globe since the 1950s. Opened in February 2016, the Miffy Museum in Utrecht invites young children to explore ten stimulating theme rooms, each dedicated to a different subject, and discover the world around them. Taking direct inspiration from his illustrated books, the kids can step into these miniature worlds with Miffy and her friends, and learn about everyday experiences, such as going to the zoo or visiting a doctor. Colourful, interactive and full of fun, it’s a fantastic experience for young audiences and parents alike.
Important works by Rietveld
Visitors travel far and wide to see the Centraal Museum’s Gerrit Rietveld collection. His ‘Rood-blauwe stoel’ (Red and Blue Chair) epitomised the characteristics of De Stijl. The museum also displays many more of Rietveld’s works, including ‘Bijzettafeltje’ (1953), a set of nesting end tables painted in striking primary colours; ‘Tafellamp’ (1925), a table lamp with sleek, modern lines; and the ‘Dradstool’ (1950), a wire chair that was so ahead of its time, it wouldn’t look out of place in design stores today.
No visit to the Centraal Museum is complete without also exploring the Rietveld Schröder House (1924), situated in the east of Utrecht. This is the only building to be designed entirely under the principles of De Stijl and features on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Its pioneering architectural and interior design made headlines around the world.
Things to do in Utrecht
Despite being one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, Utrecht has a vibrant character that makes it popular with visitors. While culture lovers typically flock to the Centraal Museum, the Miffy Museum and Railway Museum in Utrecht are fantastic family trips. Utrecht’s old city centre is also built around the Dom Tower: a spectacular medieval church tower which overlooks the picturesque canals. Its breath-taking views are well worth climbing its 465 steps.
Visit the Centraal Museum between Tuesday and Sunday from 11:00 until 17:00. Book your tickets here.