A new milestoneOver the coming years, KBR will prioritize investments in digitisation and making its collections available online, as well as increasing the accessibility of its unique collections through special exhibitions in the historic buildings of KBR at the heart of Brussels. In October 2019, a completely renovated entrance hall was implement and the exhibition "The World of Bruegel in Black and White" opened in and around the beautiful 18th-century Palace of Charles of Lorraine. As many as 30,000 visitors came to admire the complete graphic oeuvre of the Flemish master Bruegel. KBR's evolution will soon reach a new milestone with the opening of the KBR museum on 15 May 2020.
Belgium has been hiding a treasure for 600 years
For more than 600 years, KBR preserves and protects a precious treasure from the ravages of time - the Library of the Dukes of Burgundy. The Library is a collection of initially more than 900 manuscripts, of which a third remain preserved today in KBR. The manuscripts were illuminated by the best miniaturists of the 15th century, of whom were arguably just as famous as Jan Van Eyck. At the intersection of medieval and modern times, this Library covers all areas of science and contains very important texts from medieval literature. It is one of the largest libraries of its time, together with the library of the French kings, the Medici and the Vatican Library.
A museum in and around the Nassau Chapel
The KBR museum circles around the Nassau Chapel and its two additional floors. On the first floor you will learn how a manuscript was made in the 15th century. The craftsmanship of the artists is illustrated; sketching out the historical, economic and artistic context in which this beautiful collection originated. On the second floor we zoom in on the manuscripts of the dukes. In an innovative scenography, the visitor discovers more than 160 original documents, spread throughout the museum. In addition to the pieces from its own collections, the KBR also showcases many related objects on loan from other institutions. Paintings, altarpieces, statues and everyday utensils tell the story of the dukes and their manuscripts. The manuscripts cannot be exhibited permanently for preservation reasons, thus new pieces will be shown every three months. Visitors can discover new gems from the KBR collection every time they visit!
KBR offers tours in five languages: Dutch, French, English, German and Spanish, for three different visitor profiles: an in-depth visit, a first acquaintance or a visit tailored to children.
This huge undertaking could not have successfully been completed without the generous support of many others. In addition to the lenders and numerous partners from the cultural sector, various partners provided financial support for this project. Together with KBR, the Belgian Buildings Agency and Toerisme Vlaanderen investments in infrastructure and furnishing was completed; the Baillet Latour Fund supports the restoration of the manuscripts and the non-profit organisation Friends of KBR financed a part of the scenography.
- Sara Lammens, General director a.i. (KBR)
As a true book lover, I greatly appreciate the project launched by KBR and look forward to discovering the manuscripts of the Dukes of Burgundy, real treasures from our heritage. I would like to congratulate the KBR team for its vision and dynamism in the realisation of this project.
- David Clarinval, Minister in charge of Science Policy
We are delighted that we are once again contributing to the creation of new museum spaces in the KBR. Major infrastructure works were carried out to open up the space and to connect the zones. Particular attention was paid to improving accessibility. During the first phase, the main entrance to the Mont des Arts was completely renovated and refurbished with an entrance ramp. In this new phase, a glass lift and a lifting platform for people with restricted mobility were placed in front of the new museum about the Dukes of Burgundy.
- Laurent Vrijdaghs, Administrator General of the Belgian Buildings Agency
With the Library project, Flanders is investing 2.3 million euros in opening up a unique, but insufficiently known part of our heritage: the beautiful manuscript collection of the Dukes of Burgundy. Each of these 300 manuscripts is a true gem of Flemish miniature art. The Royal Library can now lift its mission - preservation, research and access - to a higher level. Together we create an authentic heritage experience for a wide national and international audience.
- Zuhal Demir, Minister of Flemish Tourism