The Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library (Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience) originated from library that the City of Antwerp founded in 1481. In the seventeenth century the library merged with the chapter library of Antwerp cathedral, and in 1769 absorbed the collections of the dissolved monastic libraries. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the library became a leading institute with books on Dutch literature, (cultural) history of the Low Countries and ‘Antverpiensia’.
The continuously expanding collection consists of manuscripts and printed books, journals, magazines and newspapers. Apart from a very extensive collection of secondary literature on, among other things, art and applied arts in the Low Countries, the library also holds many thousands of illustrated works. This collection includes various objects, ranging from works by well-known engravers such as Hieronymus Wierix and Cornelis Galle to devotional books and popular literature with woodcuts by anonymous artists.
Showpieces in the Nottebohm room (open to the public only on special occasions) are the nineteenth-century library décor, and a pair of globes by Joan Blaeu dating to the second half of the seventeenth century.
Steven Van Impe, Curator (December 2021)