The Public Library of Bruges was founded in 1796 and has functioned as both a public and a special collections library ever since. The core of the special collections consists of ca. 600 medieval manuscripts, ca. 70 incunables, and the library and archives of the poet Guido Gezelle (1830-1899).
The ca. 490 manuscript from the Cistercian abbeys of Ten Duinen (°1138) and Ter Doest (°1175), which include a large set of illuminated books produced in Flanders, form the largest portion of the medieval manuscripts. Another important subcollection are the ca. 70 illuminated books of hours from, among others, Flanders, the Netherlands and France. The incunable collection includes woodcuts and engravings, e.g. in Colard Mansion’s Metamorphoses and Hartmann Schedel’s Liber chronicarum.
Also included in the special collections are works by artists like Willem Vrelant, the Master of Guillebert de Mets, the Master of the Tall Figures (Beaufort Group), Hieronymus and Antonius Wierix, and Michael Wolgemut. Most of the books are digitised and available online through the library’s catalogue.
Dr. Evelien Hauwaerts, Curator of Medieval Manuscripts (December 2021)