First ‘academic’ mural in Groningen to be painted at Broerplein

The Groningen city centre will soon be at least five ‘academic’ murals richer. The first one will be painted at the Broerplein in April. Its subject? None other than Aletta Jacobs.

An Aletta Jacobs bust graces the forecourt of the Faculty of Arts. Beyond the arches in the quadrangle, we find Marte Röling’s pennant emblazoned with the phrase ‘non scholae, sed vitae’: we do not learn for school, but for life.  

However, both these works of art are on university grounds, and residents of the city rarely see them. Wouldn’t it be great to make art that shows Groningen’s academic nature all over town?   

This was the proposal that faction chair Gerben Brandsema with the Groningen delegation of the Christian Union presented to retired professor of astronomy Peter Barthel in the summer of 2020. They decided to spend an evening in the pub to further discuss the plans, which were inspired by similar projects in Leiden en Utrecht. 

Academic city tour

Now, nearly eighteen months later, a bare wall at the Broerplein is waiting for the very first mural to be painted. ‘We’d love to have ten or twelve murals in total, forming an academic city tour’, says Barthel. For now, there are plans for five murals. 

It’s no surprise that Aletta Jacobs, the first woman to graduate from a university in the Netherlands, is the subject of the first mural. But how to best showcase her? 

The portraits should show the academics ‘in the broadest sense of the word’, says Nicoline Wijnja, project leader at Kunstpunt and in charge of the project’s artistic side. ‘That means it shouldn’t be just a portrait of the person; the mural should also showcase their achievements and discoveries’, she says. 

Groningen artists

The decision was made to only attract Groningen artists for the project. The duo Vaaf, consisting of Lotte Masker and Jonna Bo Lammers, will be working on Aletta. ‘We absolutely love that the Groningen city centre is getting more murals’, says Lammer. 

It’s not a simple job, they say. Not only is a mural a completely different thing than small-scale art meant for inside, but it’s also imperative that the mural ‘communicates’. ‘That makes it a completely different job than a mural in a pub where people go to have a beer’, says Lammers.  

The plan is to create a mural that will titillate people and allow them to immerse themselves in Aletta Jacobs and the time she lived in. The two artists also want to bridge the gap between then and now.  ‘We want to connect her to the present day’, says Lammers. ‘To show what Aletta Jacobs’ achievements would mean in today’s world.’ 


They also considered the mural’s impact. ‘Do I want it to match its environment, have the same colour and style? Or do I want it to pop?’ Lammers explains. 

The pair is going for the second option. ‘But we’ll pop with respect to the colours of the environment’, says Masker. ‘We’ll be sure to have some overlap.’ It also enables the artists to do something else: ‘We can give people a wake-up call. We’ll show how hard Aletta Jacobs had to fight and get a discussion going’, says Lammers.

The duo will start on the mural soon. It should be finished by May – the moment when Jacobs’ trial period at the university ended and she officially became a student. 


De spelregels voor reageren: blijf on topic, geen herhalingen, geen URLs, geen haatspraak en beledigingen. / The rules for commenting: stay on topic, don't repeat yourself, no URLs, no hate speech or insults.


0 Reacties
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments