Maria Elisabeth Houtzager, a Notable Director
From 1951 to 1972, Maria Elisabeth Houtzager (1907-2001) was the director of the Centraal Museum. She made a name for the museum, both nationally and internationally, by organising leading exhibitions, such as Caravaggio en de Nederlanden (Caravaggio and the Netherlands), Jan van Scorel and Pieter Jansz Saenredam. During this period, the Utrecht school section of the museum's Dutch Masters collection became the most important in the world. Houtzager was very inventive in acquiring paintings on the museum's limited budget - she exchanged paintings and received interest-free loans from the city of Utrecht. She was the first person to have all of the museum's pre-1800 paintings examined with X-ray, and the first person to exhibit the results.
In short, Mrs. Houtzager was an ambitious woman who would do anything for the Centraal Museum. But there was a downside to her dominance. She was unpopular with her staff and at the end of her career there was growing criticism of her policy and even a number of scandals over authorship.
Of the approximately 1200 pieces that were acquired during Houtzager's directorship, 15 are on show in the exhibition Dit is het Centraal Museum in Expo 1. Maria Elisabeth Houtzager, a Notable Director shows a selection of paintings that were purchased during her directorship.