Railway Museum (Netherlands)

Railway Museum

Railway Museum in 2010
Location of the museum in Utrecht in the Netherlands
Location Utrecht, Netherlands
Coordinates 52°05′17″N 5°07′52″E / 52.0880°N 5.1312°E / 52.0880; 5.1312Coordinates: 52°05′17″N 5°07′52″E / 52.0880°N 5.1312°E / 52.0880; 5.1312
Type Transport museum

355,000 (2012 est.)[1]

Ranking 10th nationally (2013)
Director Paul M.L. van Vlijmen[2]
Website www.spoorwegmuseum.nl

The Railway Museum (Dutch: Spoorwegmuseum) in Utrecht is the Dutch national railway museum. It was established in 1927 and since 1954 has been housed in the "Maliebaan station", a former railway station.


The museum was established in 1927 and was initially located in one of the main buildings of the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch National Railroad) in Utrecht. At that time, the collection consisted mostly of pictures, documents, and small objects. In the 1930s the first steps were taken to conserve old historically significant rail equipment. A portion of this collection was lost during World War II.

The Maliebaan station

The collection was briefly located in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, but in the 1950s the museum was moved back to Utrecht. The Maliebaan station, which was closed in 1939, was found to be a suitable site. The building was remodeled, and in 1954 the museum reopened there. In this location there was far more room to exhibit the entire collection to the public, including historical rail equipment. Until 2003, a long line of historic steam locomotives on track one of the station was one of the most distinctive aspects of the exhibit.

Expansion and renovation

Over the years, more rail equipment and also tram equipment was added to the museum, and in the 1960s the plaza in front of the building was filled with rolling stock, which suffered much from the weather. An initial improvement, in 1975, was the construction of a roofed platform behind the building. In 1977 the museum was expanded with a pedestrian bridge, allowing access to an exhibit area on the other side of the freight rail tracks behind the main building. The space in front of the building was then converted to a parking lot.

The right wing of the main building contained the "historic" department, with the "modern" department located in the left wing. Among the distinctive parts of the collection are models of bridges from early on in the development of the Dutch railroads, and models of various train types. In addition there are paintings, prints, and railway equipment to be seen. The "modern" section was changed in the 1980s when it was updated to include the most recent developments, including the front of a "Sprinter" train.

Between 1988 and 1989 a major renovation was undertaken. The interior of the station building was completely redone according to the modern views of that time. This version was in place through 2003. In addition, the back lot was integrated into the museum and a "railway landscape" was built there. It also became possible to take rides, both in model trains and full sized ones. Additional buildings were added, such as the signal house from Hoogezand-Sappemeer, and a crossing guard house from Elst (in the province of Gelderland). One of the oldest railroad bridges, from Halfweg, was also included. Finally, rail service between the main railroad station of Utrecht and the Maliebaan station(the museum) was established.

Later additions, in the 1990s, were two cargo barns, one of which now houses a restaurant, and a new building on the back lot with a large model railroad. The growing collection of rolling stock was largely restored, and partly returned to operating condition. Some of the trains had suffered due to being stored out in the open, so there has been an ongoing effort to have the entire exhibit area roofed over.

The most recent major remodeling

Remodeling of the Nederlands Spoorwegmuseum in Utrecht (2004, Photo by Hans de Kroon)

In 2002 a decision was made to do yet another major remodeling of the museum. The station building was closed in September 2003, gutted, and then largely restored to the way it looked in the 19th century, with the addition of the "Royal waiting room" moved there from the "Staatsspoor" railway station of The Hague, which was demolished in 1973.

Sections of the station building

The new building

During the 2002 remodeling, the back lot was also largely cleared, and completely renovated. A large new museum building was constructed, which now contains four "worlds":

  1. The great discovery (the early years in the 19th century)
  2. Dream travels (the glory days of international trains around 1900)
  3. Steel monsters (the 1930s and 1940s)
  4. The workshop (large hall with trains)

The presentation was redesigned to appeal much more to the general public, especially visitors with children, and to be interesting for corporate events and the like. The technical and historical substance of the museum has become a lower priority. The collection now serves mainly as a kind of "background" for visitors.

Much attention was given to decoration. The choice was made to offer "a little of everything" to appeal to the general public. judging from the sharp increase in attendance since the reopening in June 2005, it would seem this goal has been achieved.

In April 2010, the 5th anniversary of the re-opening was marked by a special exhibition of royal trains, called “Royal Class, Royal Railways”, opened by Queen Beatrix.[3]

Sections of the new building

Section "the great discovery".

Outdoors exhibit area

On the exhibit area outside, a water tower was added near the existing signal house. There is also a model railway, a children's playground, and an area for special events, as well as a turntable.

Rolling stock collection

The museum currently owns a large and varied collection of rolling stock. The collection is too large to be shown in full in the limited space available. For this reason, most of the trams were dropped from the collection in the 1990s, and some of the trains are in storage. The remaining collection is no longer shown by category, as was formerly the practice, but is placed more or less at random.

The collection currently on display contains, among other things, steam locomotives, electric locomotives, diesel locomotives, train cars, freight cars, and some trams.






Overview of the collection

Some of the items in the collection are:

Shuttle rail service between Utrecht central station and the Maliebaan station

As part of the reopening of the renovated museum in June 2005, it was also reopened as a train station for the first time in almost 66 years. There is now train service on an hourly basis, Tuesday through Sunday (and Monday during holiday periods), between the museum and the Utrecht central station.

See also


  1. (Dutch) Top 55 Museumbezoek 2012, Nederlandse Museumvereniging, 2012. Retrieved on 2013-09-27.
  2. (Dutch) Over ons, Railway Museum. Retrieved on 2013-09-27.
  3. http://dnu.nu/artikel/1980-koningin-beatrix-brengt-eigen-trein-naar-spoorwegmuseum
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