Discover the world of Utrecht in the completely redesigned Centraal Museum

Museum garden with a view on the museum’s Café Centraal, the Stables and Refectory. Photo: Inga Fotografie
Museum garden with a view on the museum’s Café Centraal, the Stables and Refectory. Photo: Inga Fotografie

On 22, 23 and 24 April, after three years of renovation and refurbishment, the new Centraal Museum opens up fully for the first time. The museum has undergone a thorough metamorphosis, resulting in an open and transparent museum that connects to its surroundings. The museum has been refurbished from the entrance to the museum garden, and down to the smallest details. Its new core mission is to enrich the public with art and culture from the world of Utrecht. The opening weekend gives visitors a chance to experience this for the first time, as the opening coincides with the opening of the new permanent collection, titled The World of Utrecht.

‘The renovation was motivated by the wish to create a more open museum that is able to pursue its ambitions as a modern art-centred enterprise’, explains Marco Grob, managing director of Centraal Museum.

‘The new Centraal Museum is a total experience that is sure to inspire every visitor’, adds the artistic director, Edwin Jacobs.

Marco Grob (left) and Edwin Jacobs (right), management of Centraal Museum. Photo: Liset van der Laan
Marco Grob (left) and Edwin Jacobs (right), management of Centraal Museum. Photo: Liset van der Laan

The renovation

The goal of the renovation was to offer visitors a more open and accessible building. This goal has affected the entire premises, resulting in a new entrance, shop, information centre, museum café and events hall. Exhibition rooms have been upgraded and exhibition floor surface has increased. The garden has been redesigned and now forms the natural heart of the premises. By adding a remarkable glass bridge between the two main building parts, the routing has improved significantly. The architectural agency SODA+ designed and supervised the renovation.

SODA+ carried out the work in stages, so that the museum could remain (largely) open to the public throughout the process. The new Garden Hall was already completed in 2014, as a multifunctional events hall with an entrance at Nicolaasdwarsstraat. The main entrance, museum shop, glass bridge and garden opened one year later. The recently opened museum café and the new exhibition halls on the second floor completed the last stage of the renovation. The SODA+ architects and designers clearly approached the building and its history with immense respect. They have managed to modernise and enhance the appeal of the museum, without diminishing its very own and special character.

The horse on the top floor of the museum. Photo: Hagen Zeisberg
The horse on the top floor of the museum. Photo: Hagen Zeisberg

Identity

The physical transformation of the museum is plain to see, but there have also been important changes at the policy level. The new mission of the museum is to enrich its visitors with art and culture from the world of Utrecht. Just as the building has opened up to the city and to outside influences, the new policy is rooted in ‘the world of Utrecht’. This mission is manifested for example in the new permanent exhibition and in the Refectory, which are opening to the public for the first time at the opening weekend.

The permanent collection exhibition, titled The World of Utrecht, has an international scope, with themes that cut across the world and art history. All disciplines contained in the collection are included: modern art, fashion & costumes, city history, old art and applied arts. And always, the city of Utrecht is the principal reference point and common denominator.

The importance of ‘the story of Utrecht’ in the new context is also evident in the new design of the Refectory. Here, visitors are offered information not just about the history of the museum and the site, but also about the museum collection and the layout of the building. 

Entrance hall with work by Wolfgang Flad. Photo by Hagen Zeisberg
Entrance hall with work by Wolfgang Flad. Photo by Hagen Zeisberg

Opening weekend

A visit to Centraal Museum is free of charge in the opening weekend of 23 and 24 April, from 11am onward. There will also be extra activities such as guided tours and performances, and there is an interactive photo-wall that enables visitors to become part of a communal art work. More information about the opening weekend here.

Your chance to win tickets to the exclusive opening party

Centraal Museum is giving an exclusive party on Friday evening 22 April, as a festive kick-off to the opening weekend. It will be a spectacular evening with music, poetry, film and much more. Want to be there? Centraal Museum is raffling off a number of guest tickets among the public. More about the party and guest tickets here.


For more information about the renewed Centraal Museum see the blog post by Marco Grob, managing director.

The museum shop and information centre. Photo by Ivar Pel
The museum shop and information centre. Photo by Ivar Pel

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