Groningen, the open-air museum of the North
“Because when I'm gone I miss the streets, from the Tower to Westerhaven.” After one visit, Grunn will be in your heart. But what many people don't know, or what they don't pay attention to, is that Groningen is a real open-air museum in addition to being a lively student city. You see art everywhere around you, you just have to put your phone in your pocket for it.
An eye for the city and for each other
Look, it makes sense that we (almost) all know Groningen because of the scandals at student associations or the earthquakes. Misery simply overshadows the beautiful things and stays in our heads longer than we would like. Still, we can't withhold some of Grunn's fantastic pearls. The city has a piece of art, a piece of history or another splendor to show on every street corner. It doesn't matter whether you're sitting on the terrace at 'De Drie' or walking along the Hoge or Lage der A, as long as you keep your eyes open.
Public toilet - by Erwin Olaf & Rem Koolhaas (1996)
Location: Reitemakersrijge 22
Yes, we admit: a public toilet is not exactly the fanciest place where you take the time to take a good look around. Often the nasty smell that hangs around it meets you from a kilometer away. Still, this toilet is worth a visit. If you have to, then you have to and better on this fancy toilet. The photo collage where this shell cover (do we still need to explain what this means?) is decorated with, depicts the 'battle of the sexes'. Several ladies and gentlemen go at each other dressed in pearls and diamonds while waving rolling pins, swords and boxing gloves. And are you two now and do you both have to? There is a toilet for the females and a urinal for the males. Ideal for such a cozy pit stop.
Tip: a little further on you will find the Pomphuis. When the weather is nice you can sit here on the terrace, but it is also nice to stay inside.
Female bust on column of honor - by Anne Wenzel (2018)
The Vishoek used to be a hub for ships from the Zuiderhaven and Noorderhaven. And where there were harbors, there were the ladies of pleasure. So not only ships were loaded and unloaded here, but many skippers could also get their money's worth here. It wasn't until a few years ago that the red lights in the street went out. One lady of conviviality remained: the female bust of Anne Wenzel. Thanks to this image, the ladies still determine the streetscape of the so-called A-quarter.
Tip: café De Sleutel is just around the corner from the Women's Bust. Here you go back in time. This café was once an air raid shelter, then a beer brewery and for years now a café as a café should be. The story goes that men who came to the café sometimes (according to their wives) spent a remarkably long time in 'the toilet'. With exterior doors at the back opening directly into the red-light district, that's no surprise.
Vertebra - by Nicky Assman (2019)
Location: Nieuwe Markt 1 (parking garage under the Forum)
Wervel shows that you sometimes have to go to places that are not obvious to see art. It is not an in your face work of art in the middle of a large square, but hidden in the parking garage under the controversial Groninger Forum. The hidden child of City? Certainly not. This 20 meter long LED sculpture is inspired by a wild tornado. During the making, Assman used art, nature, science and cinematography as inspiration. The result? A whirlwind ( what's in a name) of composed video images with smooth dynamic hyper-colours. So, quite a mouthful, but then you also have something! It's that we're not allowed to have a party there, but otherwise this parking garage would be the place to be thanks to this mega disco 'ball.'
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Groningen splendor, also known as pronkjewailtjes in Groningen. Go practice it, order the Groningen Tassie and discover and walk the city like a real local. Don't forget to pull an egg ball out of the wall somewhere and you're a real Groninger.