Antwerp University puts more than 1,000 historical images online


Historical photographs, drawings and maps relate the history of Antwerp in a new digital search platform open to the public

16th-century Antwerp

Antwerp University (UA) has digitised more than 1,000 historical images and put them online on a new website. Thanks to the digital archive, the public can now find out how Antwerp’s Meir looked at the beginning of the 18th century or the Beurs before the fire of 1858.

The images, both photographic and artistic, were donated to the Business University College by a private collector in the early part of the century to be used as decoration for the halls of the city’s Business University College. About 80 images are still exhibited at the college, but the majority is conserved by the department of the Special Collections of the University Library.

Because of the value of the collection to Flemish heritage and to make the material available for researchers, UA developed software to describe and catalogue the images. All pictures were put under a scanner, after which they were  permanently stored. About 85% of the collection is now digitised.

The website includes images of etchings, copperplates, lithographs, drawings, paintings and photos. The oldest object is a wood engraving from 1493, the most recent a planography print by well-known Flemish artist Luc Tuymans from 2010. 

The photographs and illustrations, including maps and architectural plans, in particular relate the history of Antwerp. Among the images are photos of Carolus Borromeus church, Sint-Jacobs church, the Grotemarkt, City Hall, the port and the cathedral. Maps and drawings from the second half of the 16th century and from the period when Napoleon ruled are particularly well represented in the collection.

Photo: An etching of 17th-century Antwerp by Jan Theodoor Jozef Linnig
Photo courtesy Special Collections of the Antwerp University Library

University of Antwerp

The University of Antwerp is Flanders’ youngest university, but it has quickly made a name for itself in natural and biomedical science research. It is the region’s third-largest university.
Merger - The university was born from the merger of three institutions with roots dating back to 1852.
Ranking - The university placed 13th in the World University Ranking “Top 50 Universities Under 50 years”.
Epidemiology - It was the first university in Flanders to offer a Master’s degree in epidemiology.
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