Gas and Light in Groningen

27 September 2013 to 05 January 2014

In 2013 the Royal Association of Gas Producers in the Netherlands (Koninklijke Vereniging van Gasfabrikanten in Nederland) is celebrating its 140th anniversary, and GasTerra will have been trading in natural gas for half a century, which it did until 2005 under the name Gasunie. Today, the Gasunie has an important role to play in managing the high-pressure gas network in the Netherlands and northern Germany. The Groninger Museum felt that an exhibition on gas and light in the city of Groningen would well mark the occasion. Beautiful work is on show by such artists as Bernardus Bueninck, Johan Dijkstra and Paul Gauguin. Photographs and drawings from the Groningen Archives are also on exhibit.

  • Bernardus Buenink Arnhem 1864 – 1933 Groningen Lopende diep met de loskade van de Hunzeboten te Groningen, 81 x 101 cm met lijst
  • Bernardus Buenink Arnhem 1864 – 1933 Groningen Trams bij het stadhuis te Groningen, 101 x 81 cm met lijst

The influence of gas and light can be found in many works of art and the exhibition includes a number of striking examples. At night, the gaslights would shed a magical light on their environs, while during the day their beauty as objects made them a distinctive part of the cityscape. These characteristics of gaslights led to a number of striking and atmospheric paintings; depicting gaslight created a special challenge to artists.

Gas and Light in Groningen
In 1854 the municipal gas company was founded in Groningen. Gas was produced from coal in gas factories and then stored in gigantic cylindrical tanks. A vacant lot was available for the factory in Groningen near the town ramparts on the far side of the Boterdiep canal. This factory would remain in service until 1962. The first service provided by the gas company was lighting the streets with gaslights. The city hall was also lit by gaslight as early as 1856. In front of Groningen City Hall a few of these original gaslights still stand, although they have been refitted for electricity. Gas plumbing was soon installed in private homes, which made it possible to light them with gas. In 1896 electrical lighting was first introduced in Groningen, and in 1906 a separate company was established for the production and distribution of electricity, which then was becoming the standard energy source for lighting. In 1936 the gaslights in the streets were no more.  
The gas factory remained an important energy source for gas for cooking and heating until the switch to natural gas was made in 1961, after the discovery of the Slochteren gas field. Household appliances were refitted to make them suitable for natural gas, which from then on was used for cooking and heating.

With thanks to
The exhibition was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Stichting Fondsbeheer Culturele Relatie-evenementen Gasunie en GasTerra.
Funding parties: City of Groningen, Province of Groningen
Media partners: Dagblad van het Noorden, Marketing Groningen
Sponsor: the BankGiro Loterij