Two Bruges Museums, joined in diversity
However different the history and collections of the Sint-Janshospitaal and the Groeningemuseum may be, there is one unique factor that binds them together. Both collections are closely bound up with the history of the city of Bruges and with the public institutions connected to the local government, and have been so for centuries. Many of the masterpieces in the Groeningemuseum have been owned by the city for centuries, some were actually commissioned by the city and have therefore always belonged to its art collections. This is particularly striking in the case of the Sint-Janshospitaal. Virtually everything that we see in its late medieval infirmary wards – and Hans Memling’s ensemble, for instance, requires no introduction here – was made for the hospital and has never moved from the premises. So these two very different collections share a common theme: a continuity of care for art and cultural heritage that stretches back for centuries.
About Manfred Sellink
Manfred Sellink is director of the Musea Brugge, where he began working in 2001. Previously, he worked for ten years as the senior curator at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and as researcher at Utrecht University. He is specialized in 16th-century Netherlandish art, in particular the prints, drawings and life of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. In addition to his position as director, he coordinated the major exhibitions related to Bruges Cultural Capital (2002) and had final responsibility for the international art festivals Corpus and Bruges Central (2005, 2010) in Bruges. He is an active member of the board of CODART, the Vlaamse Kunstcollectie, and various expertise commissions of the Flemish Community. Since 2012 he is visiting professor at the University of Ghent, teaching museology and arts policy.