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Tucked away in an alley in Utrecht’s city center is a charming little museum. Here, visitors go back to a time when the supermarket was still an unknown phenomenon and customers paid for their groceries with cash, hard guilders and cents. Nostalgia predominates in the Kruideniersmuseum Utrecht.
Text and photos: Evert-Jan Pol
“You don’t have to pay an entrance fee,” reports a lady behind the counter in an old-fashioned grocery store. As I walk up the steps to the exhibition hall, she weighs sweets on an antique scale, complete with weights. Time seems to stand still here. Apart from the ATM that is.
The Grocery Museum, which opened at the end of November, is housed in a recently renovated seventeenth-century building in the historic city centre. It is the successor of Betje Boerhave shop and museum. A grocery shop has been recreated in detail in the reception area of the new museum.
As soon as I enter the cute shop, I imagine myself in the 1950s. As I imagine it, because I didn’t exist then. The exhibition space one flight of stairs further enhances this nostalgic feeling. Groceries from days gone by can be seen in display cases and cupboards. Such as soap in packaging from the Second World War to the present, various storage cans and many products that customers could buy in the past.
Surprising to me is the canned spinach. I mainly knew cans with that green concentrate from the cartoons Popeye. And cat food apparently used to be known as cat bread. I now want a can with that in it.
As a lover of ‘old stuff’ I am amazed in this fine little museum. The objects on display make me want to explore all thrift and antique shops. I also want one of those old scales with weights, as well as all those old storage cans. But first I walk back to the shop for a few bags – made of paper, of course – old Dutch sweets.
Grocery Museum UtrechtHeight 10, Utrecht