The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a monumental building on the square known as Vrijdagmarkt in Antwerp. In the sixteenth century, the printing house of Christoffel Plantin and his son-in-law Jan Moretus – an enterprise internationally renowned for the unparalleled quality of its printed works – occupied these premises. Plantin and Moretus were the first printers to work on an industrial scale, and their printing house and publishing company became a meeting place for scholars and writers. The original house, workshop, and furnishings, including the well-preserved sixteenth-century printing press, remained in the family until the nineteenth century. The heirs sold it to the city of Antwerp and the Belgian state in 1876, 300 years after Christoffel Plantin had set up in business. In 1877, the building was opened to the public. Thanks to its historical printing house, in 2005 it became the first museum to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Besides the fully-equipped printing house with authentic wooden printing presses – the oldest in the world – the foundry for lead printing type has also been preserved. In addition to the collection related to the printing industry, the museum also preserves a rich art collection of around 25,000 incunabula and old prints – that is, printed before 1800 – as well as over 600 manuscripts.
Important works from the collection include a rare copy of the fifteenth-century Chronicles of Jean Froissart, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the herbal produced by Dodoens, and an atlas by Ortelius. The Museum’s print room is one of the best in the world and contains works from 1500 to the present, including masterpieces by Jordaens and Rubens. The museum also owns several portraits by Rubens.
Museum Plantin-Moretus Antwerpen
Nave, Francine de, Leon Voet