The Stay At Home Museum: Your Private, Guided Tours of Rubens, Bruegel & Other Flemish Masters

Of the many world class muse­ums treat­ing a stuck-at-home pub­lic to vir­tu­al tours of their col­lec­tions, none inspire the resolve for future trav­el as the Stay At Home Muse­um, an ini­tia­tive of the Flan­ders tourism board.

Before the COVID-19 epi­dem­ic response demand­ed the tem­po­rary shut­ter­ing of all such attrac­tions, the region was enter­ing the final year of a 3‑year fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing such Flem­ish mas­ters as Jan Van EyckPieter Bruegel, and Peter Paul Rubens.

Its web­site appeals to young, hip vis­i­tors by match­ing inter­ests with celebri­ty tour guides: Bac­chus (as ren­dered by Rubens) for eat­ing and drink­ing in an arty atmos­phere and Rubens’ Venus for cul­tur­al­ly respon­si­ble shop­ping and dia­mond admir­ing.

Oth­er entic­ing prospects we can’t take advan­tage of at present:

A down­load­able Bruegel walk­ing tour map

Rubens-inspired beer tourism

A Flem­ish Mas­ters itin­er­ary for chil­dren

An open air aug­ment­ed real­i­ty expe­ri­ence based on Bruegel’s The Fight Between Car­ni­val and Lent

Our sad­ness at miss­ing these can­not be chalked up to FOMO. Right now, the whole world is miss­ing out.

So, con­sid­er the Stay At Home Muse­um a pre­view, some­thing to help us enjoy our trips to the region all the more at some point in the future, by edu­cat­ing our­selves on the painters who made Flan­ders famous.

The series is also a treat for the Zoom weary. The expert guides aren’t fac­ing their web­cams at home, but rather using their high lev­el access to lead us through the emp­ty muse­ums in which the exhibits are still installed.

No jostling…

No crowd­ing in front of the most cel­e­brat­ed pieces…

No inane lunch-relat­ed chat­ter from tourists who aren’t into art as deeply as you are…

Above, Van Eyck expert Till-Hol­ger Borchert, Direc­tor of Musea Bruges, ori­ents us to the artist and his work, most notably the Ghent altar­piece, aka Ado­ra­tion of the Mys­tic Lamb, a 12-pan­el polyp­tych that Van Eyck worked on with Hugo, the old­er broth­er who died 6 years before its com­ple­tion.

Pay close atten­tion to Adam and Eve’s body hair. Borchert cer­tain­ly does.

He also sheds a lot of inter­est­ing light on the sig­nif­i­cance of mate­ri­als, fram­ing choic­es, and com­po­si­tion.

The restored altar­piece was slat­ed to be rein­stalled in its orig­i­nal home of Ghent’s Saint Bavo’s Cathe­dral, fol­low­ing the sched­uled clos­ing of Jan van Eyck: An Opti­cal Rev­o­lu­tion—April 30, 2020.

The Roy­al Muse­um of Fine Art’s direc­tor Michel Draguet takes us on a French-speak­ing jour­ney inside Bruegel’s paint­ing, The Fall of the Rebel Angels.

Ben Van Bene­den, the direc­tor of the Rubens House, invites us into Ruben’s “art gallery room”—something no self-respect­ing wealthy poly­glot diplomat/aesthete who’s also a Baroque painter would do with­out, appar­ent­ly.

The peek at Rubens’ gar­den is nice too, espe­cial­ly for those of us with no pri­vate out­door space of our own.

Jump­ing ahead to the Bel­gian avant-garde of the late nine­teenth and ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­turies, cura­tor Mieke Mels of Ostennd’s the Mu.ZEE spills the beans on why native son, James Ensor, shield­ed his 1888 mas­ter­piece Christ’s Entry into Brus­sels from the pub­lic view for 3 decades.

This episode has been trans­lat­ed into Inter­na­tion­al Sign Lan­guage for deaf and hear­ing impaired view­ers.

A fifth and alleged­ly final episode is forth­com­ing. View a playlist of all Stay At Home Muse­um episodes here.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of 30 World-Class Muse­ums & Safe­ly Vis­it 2 Mil­lion Works of Fine Art

14 Paris Muse­ums Put 300,000 Works of Art Online: Down­load Clas­sics by Mon­et, Cézanne & More

The British Muse­um Puts 1.9 Mil­lion Works of Art Online

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. It’s been so long since she vis­it­ed Bel­gium, she can’t remem­ber if her indis­cre­tion in the Bruges youth hos­tel made it into her trav­el mem­oir, No Touch Mon­key! And Oth­er Trav­el Lessons Learned Too Late. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.