The Top Museums in Utrecht, the Netherlands

Utrecht's Centraal Museum | © Vincent Zedelius / WikiCommons
Utrecht's Centraal Museum | © Vincent Zedelius / WikiCommons | © Vincent Zedelius / WikiCommons
Photo of Tom Coggins
9 November 2017

Much like other larger cities in the Netherlands, such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam or the Hague, Utrecht has more than its fair share of excellent museums. In fact, the city features a wide range of cultural institutions, including a museum dedicated to popular children’s book character Miffy and a particularly stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site designed by de Stijl luminary Gerrit Rietveld.

Miffy Museum

Miffy’s creator Dick Bruna is among the most famous people from Utrecht and penned many books featuring the adorable rabbit while living in the city. There are many tributes to Dick Bruna and his characters dotted around Utrecht, including a fully-fledged museum dedicated to Miffy on Agnietenstraat. This family orientated establishment houses many colourful, interactive exhibitions that are perfect for younger kids and other charming displays centred around Miffy.

Exhibition at the Miffy Museum | © Vincent van der Heijden / Flickr

Centraal Museum

Utrecht’s main museum primarily collects artefacts, artwork and other objects that are related to the city’s history. Its impressive collection includes many paintings created during the Baroque movement in the Netherlands and the museum owns many pieces by Joachim Wtewael, Gerard van Honthorst and Hendrick ter Brugghen. Aside from historical artwork, Centraal Museum also preserves a wide range of fashion, design and art objects that were produced in Utrecht over the last century.

Utrecht's Centraal Museum | © Vincent Zedelius / WikiCommons

Museum Catharijne Convent

As its name suggest this museum on Lange Nieuwstraat is housed inside a former convent that was once dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Its collections revolves around religious artwork from the Middle Ages to the present day and includes many sacred objects such as richly detailed altarpieces, gilded ecclesiastical artefacts and leather-bond theological texts. The building itself is absolutely stunning and dates back to the medieval period.

A display inside the museum | © FaceMePLS / WikiCommons

The Railway Museum

Utrecht’s Railway Museum retraces the history of rail transportation while recreating some of the most memorable episodes from this important form of technology’s past. There are some seriously awesome interactive exhibitions inside the museum including an installation about the Orient Express which involves live-action performances, and an immersive steam train simulator called de Vuurproef.

An old train in the museum | © Zairon / WikiCommons

Museum Speelklok

Museum Speelklok features one of the most extensive collection of self-playing instruments in the world. Many of these delightful automatons predate modern technologies like electronic batteries by several centuries, but still manage to crank out captivating melodies. There’s clockwork instruments of all shapes and sizes inside the museum, ranging from classic street organs to tiny, hand-sized music boxes.

Museum Speelklok’s mammoth, automated music organs | © bertknot / Flickr

Rietveld Schröder House

This incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site was designed by de Stijl master Gerrit Rietveld in the 1920s. Even though there are other buildings that draw from de Stijl dotted around the globe, the Rietveld Schröder House is generally seen as the most complete example of the movement’s attempts to move into architecture and contains many fascinating design features such as bold, geometrical walls and fully adaptable living spaces. The house was occupied by the Schröder family for most of its existence, but has since been converted into a museum.

Rietveld Schröder House | © frm_tokyo / Flickr