Heritage journal and tourism agency employ the help of Old Masters


The Flemish-Dutch heritage journal Ons Erfdeel and the tourism agency Visit Flanders are both focusing on the great painters of the past, for different reasons

More to come

To celebrate its 60th anniversary and foster cultural co-operation throughout the Low Countries, the Flemish-Dutch heritage journal Ons Erfdeel (Our Heritage) has joined forces with the Flemish-Dutch culture house deBuren in Brussels on a series of lectures.

Earlier this year, the series dealt with topics like diplomacy, publishing and journalism. For the upcoming talk at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (KMSKA), Ons Erfdeel and deBuren have invited several high-profile museum directors to discuss the relationship between art and tourism.

KMSKA’s director, Manfred Sellink, and Phillip Van den Bossche of Mu.Zee in Ostend will be joined by their counterparts from the Netherlands – Bruges-born Ann Demeester of the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem and American Emilie Gordenker of Mauritshuis in The Hague – to talk about future cultural and economic challenges.

During the lecture Rubens, Vermeer, Bruegel: toeristische trekkers of artistieke toppers? (Tourist Attractions or Artistic Treasures?), the four directors will discuss the reasons why tourists come to the Low Countries, focusing in particular on the appeal of the Old Masters.

Masters in the open air

The keynote speech will be delivered by Peter De Wilde, CEO of tourism agency Visit Flanders. He says that the lecture complements the region’s latest tourism campaign, which promotes the “ground-breaking craftsmanship” of the Flemish people, including the Old Masters.

“Next year, Visit Flanders will focus on the Baroque era and Rubens,” says De Wilde (pictured). “In 2019, when the KMSKA reopens, we will remember Breugel 450 years after his death. And in 2020, we’ll focus on the restored Ghent Altarpiece and the Flemish Primitives.”

According to De Wilde, the long-term approach was influenced by Visit Flanders’ recent success in promoting the First World War commemorations. “Before informing the press and possible trade partners and launching the programme, we made sure we had the right investments in the right places.”

Our programme will make the Flemish masters more accessible to the general public in some of the less obvious places

- Peter De Wilde of Visit Flanders

Since the Old Masters are reminiscent of a time when Flanders was part of the historic region of the Southern Netherlands, Visit Flanders chose to collaborate on the new campaign with its counterpart abroad. “We decided to work with thematic routes.”

The Netherland tourism agency aims to show to foreigners that there is more to see than just Amsterdam. Flanders, he adds, doesn’t have the same problem of tourists visiting one main city and ignoring the rest, “but our programme will make the Flemish masters more accessible to the general public in some of the less obvious places”. This includes the Bokrijk open air museum in Genk, which will host an exhibition on Bruegel in 2019.

In the meantime, the Flemish and Dutch tourism agencies and the national railway companies NMBS and NS are collaborating on a decorative train featuring the Old Masters. When finished, the train will connect Brussels, Antwerp, The Hague and Amsterdam, informing travellers what else is in store for the Flemish-Dutch collaboration.

9 September 15.00, Leopold De Waelplaats 2, Antwerp

Photo: Kris Van Exel