Meet Maria


Museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht (NL)

The most represented woman in the world now received her own exhibition in Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht: Mary. Kossmanndejong designed this temporary exhibition – the largest in the museum’s history – as an inspiring journey through the world of Mary. Crossing cultures and religions, examining works of old masters and contemporary artists and through personal stories from famous and everyday Dutch personalities, visitors get to know Mary and discover the many faces of this truly international woman.

Utrecht (NL)
Museum Catharijneconvent
800 m2
Concept, Spatial design, Graphic design
Martin Saemmer (lead), Herman Kossmann, Sietske Sips, Robert van der Linde
Light design
Rapenburg Plaza
Mitchel Tan & Metropolis Film
An all-encompassing experience

The life story of Mary is extensive and her representations in art are limitless. To showcase this diversity yet still maintain cohesion, we designed the exhibition as a chronological narration of her life in the long corridors of the cloister. In the surrounding rooms six different themes elaborate her story, such as Primal mothers and goddesses, Devotion and Mary in contemporary art. Each different realm is created using a dynamic combination of audiovisual media, colour, light and sound. In one space visitors imagine themselves between pilgrims through life-size wall projections and accompanying singing of Mary processions, while the resonance of the Hail Mary in a room filled with prayer benches stirs up a feeling of devotion.

A multisensory journey

The symbolism of Mary is clearly visible and tangible throughout the exhibition. At the introduction in the stairwell that leads to the exhibition on the first floor, Mary – shown in Ascension – leads visitors to higher spheres. The main exhibition space is bathed in beautifully coloured light, filtered by film on the windows, and when paired with different soundscapes, this creates an atmosphere that tickles the senses. The aim was to create a dynamic interplay between old and new: historic icons, paintings and Pietà figures are juxtaposed with contemporary interpretations of Mary, for example, from tattoos, video installations and the internet. Film clips featuring personal stories and experiences from varying Dutch personalities also show the human side of Mary.

“You can see all different sides of Mary. There are so many stories…”

Netty de Jong-Dorland