Special Collections

Van Baaren room
Van Baaren room

photo: Ernst Moritz

Van Baaren collection

The Van Baaren collection, collected between 1925 and 1964 by Josephina and Lambertus van Baaren from Utrecht, is, with its 19th and early 20th century collection of visual arts, an important core of the Centraal Museum. It serves as the museum’s window to the international developments in the art of painting. It is a good example of a typical private collection which came into being under the influence of art educator Bremmer. With the arrival at the Centraal Museum in 1980, the collection art of the 19th and early 20th centuries was improved significantly. The centre pieces of this collection include works of Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Herbin, Jean Metzinger, Floris Verster, Johan Bartold Jongkind and Piet Mondriaan.

Theo van Doesburg collection

Theo van Doesburg was born on 30 August 1883 as Christian Emil Marie Küpper. At an early age he adopted the name of his stepfather and actual carer, Theodorus Doesburg, later adding the ‘van’ in between. Van Doesburg was art critic, painter, poet, Dada performer, and founder of De Stijl. In 1920, he met talented pianist Nelly van Moorsel, who would play avant-garde compositions on the Dada evenings. The two became inseparable. After Van Doesburg died in 1931, Nelly dedicated herself to promoting the De Stijl movement and her husband’s work. Nelly passed away in 1975. Her inheritance was left to her niece Wies van Moorsel. Wies subsequently donated the huge collection of sketches and designs to the RKB (Netherlands Office for Fine Arts), now the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. During preparations for the extensive retrospective of Theo van Doesburg in 2000, Centraal Museum decided to take the collection on permanent loan – making the work and ideology of this Utrecht artist accessible for study.

Dick Bruna collection

In 2000, Centraal Museum organized a retrospective of the work of Dick Bruna (Utrecht, 1927). Consequently, thousands of designs, drawings, posters and clippings were conveyed to the museum. Since opening in 2006, the Dick Bruna Huis has been able to exhibit varying selections of this collection. Although Bruna became known world-wide for the creation of ‘nijntje’ or Miffy, his book cover and poster designs for publisher A.W. Bruna & Son are just as noteworthy.

The Rietveld Schröder Archive

Truus Schröder deeply admired Rietveld. Among the first to recognize his talent, she encouraged him to become an architect. The Schröder House design was the breakthrough of his career. Schröder’s support continued also after the completion of this project. This included collecting and saving sketches, photographs of his work, letters, clippings and other documentation. From 1924 to 1933, Rietveld had his studio on the ground floor of the Schröder House. Rietveld and Truus Schröder often collaborated on important projects. After his wife passed away in 1957, Rietveld moved in with Truus. The Schröder House, as well as the projects between 1924-1933 and those after 1958 have been documented in great detail. The archive also contains a wealth of information on his other work. In 1985 both the Schröder House and Rietveld Schröder Archive was conveyed to the Centraal Museum. Due to donations and acquisitions since then, it has almost doubled in size. Just as Truus Schröder had envisaged, the archive has become a valuable source of research into Rietveld’s life, ideas and work.        

The PUG collection

The Provincial Utrecht Society of Arts and Sciences (PUG) started collecting ‘Antiquities’ in 1841. Everything from Roman glasses and cups, gold and silver coins and jewellery, delicately decorated ‘terra sigillata’ earthenware, oil lamps, writing implements and belt buckles. The impressive collection of approximately 15.000 archaeological finds mainly consists of Roman objects, but the prehistoric and medieval times are also represented. Most of the objects were excavated in and around Utrecht, in areas such as the Dom Square and De Meern, and at Fort Vechten.
The Centraal Museum and PUG collection have been closely connected since 1921. The collection was first exhibited in the basement of the museum and then later moved to the neighbouring Foundation of Renswoude, where it was to stay until 2010.
In 1995, the Provincial Utrecht Society conveyed the collection to the municipality of Utrecht. A large-scale re-inventory is currently taking place to make it more accessible for the public and research.

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