Gruuthusemuseum Hard Hat tour with Aleid Hemeryck, Curator, and Inge Geysen, Assistant Curator, Gruuthusemuseum, Musea Brugge, Bruges
In the heart of Bruges’s museum district are two magnificent, unique monumental buildings. The Gruuthuse Palace is a prestigious city palace dating from the fifteenth century. The Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady) still stands as another of Bruges’s landmarks: both in its skyline and as a depository for masterpieces by Flemish and international masters. These two structures are connected, quite literally, through the unique fifteenth-century prayer chapel, which was commissioned by Louis de Gruuthuse. The church has been undergoing thorough restoration in recent years, in the course of which historical wall paintings have come to light.
The Gruuthuse Palace, which has been used as a museum since the latter half of the nineteenth century, has also undergone comprehensive restoration in the past few years, and the building now shines once more in all its former glory. This work included the restoration of the facade overlooking the Reie River, repairs on all stained-glass windows, and the stabilization of diverse sections, including the impressive ‘Delacenserie Attic’ or Grand Reserve. Following on from the restoration of the palace, work started on refurbishing the interior and the museum facilities, which will greatly revitalize the Gruuthusemuseum. Once this work is completed, by the spring of 2019, visitors will be able to rediscover this splendid building and experience the museum’s rich collection once again. This collection reflects centuries of exquisite craftsmanship and will guide visitors through 500 years of local history. Bruges’s heyday in the late Middle Ages, the dynamism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and the decisive changes of the nineteenth century are all expressed through work in precious metals, sculptures, tapestries, lace, illuminated manuscripts, and paintings. The upgraded museum will place these beautiful objects in their Bruges context.
Simultaneously with the upgrading of the Gruuthusemuseum, the nearby square is also being given a makeover. A brand new reception center is being erected in between the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk and the Gruuthuse Palace. In the new reception center, visitors can enjoy a multimedia display of Bruges’s extraordinarily rich heritage collections.
Participants in this excursion will see how the building’s recent restoration was effected, enjoy a unique glimpse of the choir of the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk from the – yet to be restored – prayer chapel, and learn of the plans for the new museum and the future complex.