Place
Museum Mayer van den Bergh
Art museum in Antwerp, Belgium
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Museum Mayer van den Bergh
Art museum in Antwerp, Belgium
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Lange Gasthuisstraat 19
Antwerpen
Belgium

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Like Macklemore, collector Fritz Mayer van den Bergh insisted on buying underappreciated stuff no one else wanted. Unlike Macklemore, Fritz’s picks aren’t likely to wind up in a thrift shop anytime soon.

This museum prides itself on being the first museum to be built around a single collection. So, where did this collection come from? The answer, one man and his mommy. Fritz Mayer van den Bergh was born in 1858 into one of the wealthiest families in Antwerp. His father died in 1879 so Fritz ditched university, told his brother to run the family business, and went home to be with his mommy. This is really sweet, but the dude never left. He and his mom were such besties that when he was knighted in 1887 he adopted her last name (van den Bergh) and together they traveled around indulging in his eclectic, but always exquisite taste in art. 

Fritz had a fancy for 14th- 16th C art, which his friends thought was passé. But ol’ Fritz knew what was up. He’d invest huge amounts of money on undesired estate collections sensing that in a few years they’d be on trend, then resell for a profit. By the time Fritz died in a riding accident at the age of 43 he had become one of the leading art aficionados in the country. After his death his bereaved mother did what any mother would do for her son, she hired the City’s best architect to build a museum for his paintings to honor him. The neo-gothic townhouse built next to the family estate was donated in 1906 and opened completely to the public in 1929. It is the only Belgian museum to get a mention in the 'Great smaller museums of Europe Guide,’ which is a great guide to smaller museums in Europe. 

The collection is well known for its 13th-18th C paintings, 12th-18th C sculptures, gems, tapestries, porcelain… really whatever Europeans made between the 12th and 18th C you can find here. To make things even more enticing, mommy dearest and son had apparently anticipated the items becoming their own museum. In addition to the art, Fritz had collected tons of furnishing, mantelpieces, stained-glass, etc., which architect Joseph Hertogs incorporated into the building. 

Visit on the last Wednesday of every month OR find a group of school-children under 12 to get in for free, otherwise pay the menial €8 fee to get in. Once you’re done taking in the Renaissance masterpieces head just down the street to Rubenshuis, Ruben’s former studio and now museum or check out the nearby ModeMuseum Provincie (MoMu) fashion museum to take in Belgium’s greatest trends, also not likely to end up in a thrift shop. 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Museum Mayer van den Bergh

Museum Mayer van den Bergh is a museum in Antwerp, Belgium, housing the collection of the art dealer and collector Fritz Mayer van den Bergh (1858-1901). The major works are from the Gothic and Renaissance period in the Netherlands and Belgium, including paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.

History

Fritz Mayer van den Bergh, born in 1858, collected art for most of his life, making his most expensive and important additions between 1897 and his death in 1901. He was especially interested in art from the 14th to sixteenth century, while his contemporaries considered the Gothic and Renaissance art dated. This fact enabled him to create a collection of 1.000 pieces of mostly Northern Renaissance art. After his death, his mother Henriette Mayer van den Bergh built a neo-gothic house in the banking district of Antwerp between 1901 and 1904, as a museum for the expansive art collection.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Museum Mayer van den Bergh.