Utrecht history brought to Life

The Nederlands Volksbuurtmuseum celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.

It was in 1974, that the residents of District C first established the District C Committee, to maintain and restore their neighbourhood. To support this project the Committee collected photographs and other material. In 1983, the community centre in the district opened its doors to accommodate the growing archive there.

On 15 May 1993 the Foundation Volksbuurtmuseum Wijk C was established. This allowed the collection to be secured and to develop its own policy and activities independently of the municipality. The collection that had been built up became the property of the museum. That was the beginning of the Nederlands Volksbuurtmuseum

In those 25 years, the Nederlands Volksbuurtmuseum has developed into a recognized and registered museum, in which the personal stories of people from popular neighbourhoods are central. In the museum you can experience for yourself what it is like to live in a working-class neighbourhood and hear, smell and see how life used to be. The museum has a very large collection full of memories of life in the popular neighbourhoods of Utrecht back then. In the online image bank of the museum you can search for your own memories and family.

In 1983, when the community centre in the neighbourhood opened its doors, a group of active residents was busy cataloguing and describing the photos every Thursday evening. Storage was still done in folders and boxes. The community centre continued to collect and used the photo collection to organize educational and exhibitions were also made. The reactions to this were always very positive. The new photos streamed in after every photographic exhibition and captured the famous old neighbourhood

On 15 May 1993, the Stichting Volksbuurtmuseum Wijk C was established and from that period on, objects were also collected. The main objective was to record the history of this, once famous, neighbourhood for posterity. This was because no one else was interested outside of the neighbourhood and this history was therefore threatened with being lost. The recording of this history had to lead to a serious reappraisal of a large group of Utrecht residents. The negative stigma that stuck to the working-class district and its residents asked for extra attention for all the positive things that were also present. In this way, a more realistic picture of the working class has been created.

There are so many interesting exhibits on display, with many being interactive. You can Experience the Alley where you can feel what it was like to be in the cramped and shabby conditions of around 1920. As well as that you can learn about the history of District C in Words.

A multimedia presentation on the characteristics of a working-class district is highlighted when you test yourself at ‘De Andere Volksbuurt’

We can also learn what it would have been like to step into the ‘de Korenschoof’ bakery shop interior. At the time ‘de Korenschoof’ was the largest bread and flour factory in Utrecht and had more than eighty shops and depots in the city. A few years ago, the museum purchased the only known interior of such a shop from Mr. Sickeszlaan no. 1 in Tuindorp and integrated it into the museum.

With the ‘Kistjeswand’, the people of ‘District C tell their story’. On display are small boxes containing a photo and an object, which tells a short story by someone from the neighbourhood. These sound fragments come from the extensive collection of interviews of the NVBM.

There are Carts full of stories where the many Utrecht street vendors went out with their trade.

‘Beelaerts van Bloklandzaal’ several years ago refurbished the large upstairs room and the space is now used for presentations. You can also see: the original interior of the folk drugstore Dijkman from the Willemstraat., an old-fashioned slide series about the old Wijk C and a moving documentary ‘Living under supervision’

The knowledge centre houses a wealth of photographs and on tape and digital, the oral tradition of the neighbourhood.

You can ask any of the staff if you are looking for photos of family, disappeared streets or stories from the past. they like to help you!

This is a wonderful experience for the visitor.

Immerse yourself in Utrechts history, a special part of history where the lives of the working class of Utrecht are highlighted. Their rich history does credit to them and this area of Utrecht and should never be forgotten.

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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