A Public Catholic Museum: The Archepiscopal Museum Utrecht as an actor in the construction of Catholic image and identity in the late-nineteenth-century Netherlands
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The Arch Episcopal Museum Utrecht opened in 1872 amidst vocal anti-Catholic sentiments. The museum rose to prominence and influenced the creation of a Catholic public image, and identity. The museum has not been studied as a cultural institute before. The museum’s cultural impact is analysed sing contemporary newspaper articles which have not been analysed before, and the concepts of public sphere, imagined communities, and cultural contact zones. The museum incorporated Catholic history in the Dutch historical narrative and normalized Catholicism in Dutch society. The museum did however not battle existing stereotypes of Catholicism. The museum contributed to the construction of a national Catholic identity by providing tangible heritage, creating a shared history for the Catholic community. The museum enforced an identity and image of Catholicism that placed it in a distinct pillar in Dutch, nineteenth-century society.