ANTWERP | Museum Mayer van den Bergh is expanding into former District Hall

Museum Mayer van den Bergh in Antwerp is being renovated and is expanding to the adjacent corner house in the Lange Gasthuisstraat. Yes, the house used to be the offices of the District of Antwerp

The former offices of District of Antwerp.

As a result, the parental home of the exceptional art collector Fritz Mayer Van den Bergh (1858-1901) will become part of the museum in the future. In the new design, respect for the historicity of the museum, founded in 1904, goes hand in hand with museological and architectural innovation.

In 2021 the District Hall of the Antwerp district moved to a new location in the Harmoniepark

The abandoned building in the Lange Gasthuisstraat is now given a new purpose. It will be part of the adjacent Mayer van den Bergh Museum, a logical choice since the former city palace was the former residence of the Mayer van den Bergh family. 

The Council of Regents of the museum and the City of Antwerp are joining forces for this ambitious restoration and renovation project. Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven Architecten BV is responsible for the design and works together with Julian Harrap architects. This British architectural firm is part of the team that is also working on the Bourla Theater in Antwerp.

Alderman for Culture Nabilla Ait Daoud (N-VA): “Museum Mayer van den Bergh has a world-class masterpiece on display with the ‘Dulle Griet‘ (‘Mad Meg‘) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, but the museum remains, with more than fifty works of art on the Flemish Masterpieces List, a hidden gem in with the planned expansion – a reunification of the family home with the museum – Mayer van den Bergh will no longer be hidden.The museum will be able to focus even more emphatically on intimacy and authenticity, so that the experience for the visitor will only become more intense .”

Alderman Annick De Ridder (N-VA), chairman of AG Vespa: “AG Vespa is the proud owner of the renewed museum Mayer van den Bergh. Top pieces from the Antwerp School can be shown to all Antwerp residents and the general public in the best possible conditions, thus making the dream come true. of Fritz and his mother Henriëtte comes out every day.”

Restore to 1904

Henriëtte Mayer van den Bergh, the mother of Fritz Mayer van den Bergh, had the private museum built in 1901. Fritz was an inspired art connoisseur who, in barely ten years, amassed a breathtaking collection full of masterpieces. After his sudden death, mother Henriëtte realized her son’s unfulfilled wish: to build her own museum around her son’s impressive collection. The City of Antwerp and a Council of Regents have jointly managed the building and collection since 1951.

Carl Depauw, director of the Museum Mayer van den Bergh: “With this expansion – where the home and museum are reunited again – the Museum Mayer van den Bergh makes an appointment with history, with a promising view of the future.

Rejoining the historical museum with the former residence of the Mayer van den Bergh family is a logical step. Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven Architects chose to restore the original museum to its 1904 situation and to restore the adjacent building ensemble into a city palace. The unique heritage story of Fritz and Henriëtte comes into its own even better, while the museum is given extra space to allow more visitors to enjoy a particularly diverse art collection in comfort. The restoration and expansion also give the collection itself more breathing space. With more than sixty masterpieces on the Flemish Masterpieces List, Museum Mayer van den Bergh has an exceptionally high-quality art collection that must be managed, preserved and presented under the best conditions.”

Preliminary Investigations

Several preliminary investigations are currently underway. These preliminary investigations focus on the architectural condition and heritage parts of the museum and corner house, and are necessary in the further elaboration of the design.

Based on the results, the architects can make a correct estimate of the necessary work regarding building physics, stability, installations and acoustics. The final preliminary design will be ready in the spring of 2023.

A start date for the construction works is not yet known.

Chairman of the Board of Regents, Thomas Leysen: “Henriëtte is fully worthy, because with a determined look to the future, this collaboration between the city and the Council of Regents means that this museum and the magnificent collection are looking forward to a promising future.”

Museum Mayer van den Bergh

The Museum Mayer van den Bergh immerses the visitor in an intimate, homely atmosphere and houses a unique collection of art from home and abroad. Fritz Mayer van den Bergh brought together numerous masterpieces from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, often pieces that were little studied or appreciated in his day. 

The collection is surprisingly diverse and includes paintings in all kinds of genres, prints and drawings, altarpieces, monumental sculpture, tapestries, … In addition to 3,100 works of art, the collection includes 2,500 coins and medals. Fritz had a special interest in Pieter Bruegel the Elder and was the discoverer of the ‘Dulle Griet’. 

The work ‘Twelve Proverbs‘ by the old master can also be seen in the museum. Henriëtte opened the museum in 1904 and in 1906 she installed a Board of Regents to manage Fritz’s estate. The City of Antwerp has been co-managing this museum pearl since 1951.

The buildings on the site are the result of continuous adjustments by

changing and wealthy owners. In 1862 the Mayer van den Bergh family moves into

the hotel at Lange Gasthuisstraat 21 and is radically renovating this city palace with central courtyard. After the death of son Fritz, mother Henriëtte had part of their home demolished for the construction of the museum. 

The museum and residence will then function together around the courtyard for a number of years. In 1964 the house comes into the hands of a new owner (NV Spaarkrediet) and it is converted into a bank building. 

Afterwards, the building served as a district house for the Antwerp district for several years.

Art and museums in Antwerp

38 Comments Add yours

  1. elvira797mx says:

    Very interesting, thank’s for share, Timothy.
    Nice day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy says:

      You’re welcome. Have a nice day, Elvira.


      1. elvira797mx says:

        You as well, nice day, Timothy.


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