Museum Catharijneconvent Explore Utrecht 2

The many faces of Mary at the Catherijne Convent museum

I recently visited an exhibition about Mary at Museum Catherijneconvent. It was on Saturday, so the museum was quite crowded, making it difficult for me to properly appreciate the many artworks created based on the story of a woman, who inspires and adored by many people around the world. Regardless the overcrowded rooms, the exhibition exceeds our high expectations and it was certainly “an inspiring journey lasting two millennia rich brimming with new information and insights about the most influential and portrayed woman in the world.”

For the Catholics, Mary is the most important saint. To the followers the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox church, she holds a very important role in their spiritual life. Mary, daughter of Joachim and Anna, and wife (or fiancée) of Joseph, was touched by the power of the Holy Spirit. Following by an annunciation by Archangel Gabriel, the Holy Virgin gave birth to Jesus of Nazareth. There are many mysteries about Mary’s life, prior and after the birth of Jesus. This is probably why she became a global symbol of womanhood, love and family, fear, sorrow, consolation and protection. Throughout centuries, Mary served as a source of inspiration for the finest artists, who manifested their vision of her in many different forms, making her the most portrayed woman in the world.

Catharijneconvent Tentoonstelling De vele gedaantes van Maria 130317

In the Mary exhibition, Museum Catherijneconvent brings together the many fascinating illustrations from national and international collections in different combinations. The artworks were brought in from, among others the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium, Museum Boijmans from Beuningen, the Van Gogh Museum, the Mauritshuis, and from Museum Catherijneconvent’s own collection. The curators have been able to gather many captivating and diverse images of Mary, as an object of inspiration for icons and paintings, manuscripts, sculptures, tattoos and video installations. You will find the great works of famous artists such as Rubens, Pieter de Grebber, Rembrandt, Jan Toorop, Bill Viola, Jan Fabre and Maria Roosen – this is an opportunity, which should not be missed.

For those who are inspired to visit the exhibition, try to do it on a week-day. This will allow you to study the artworks at a quieter pace and to have a more immersive experience. The exhibition, started on 10 February, will run for more than six months. The museum also offers lectures and special tours as part of the program. For more information regarding the museum and the exhibition, please visit

Maria image – Rapenburg Plaza
Picture’s by: Susanne Sterkenburg

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About Maurice Hengeveld

Maurice Hengeveld is an independent editor-journalist and works for a variety of clients. In Utrecht, he is connected to the city glossy LEVEN! magazine Utrecht, Aorta Architecture Centre, (about the new neighborhood Merwede), (about the restoration of the Dom tower), and the neighbourhood magazines Mens en Wijk (North-East) and de Zuidwester (Kanaleneiland and Transwijk), among others. He mainly focuses on storytelling, brand journalism, and web content strategy. Clearly, Maurice likes to focus on his hometown of Utrecht. The hidden stories in particular spark his imagination!

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