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Discover Flanders from your armchair

Whilst much of the world is in lockdown, many initiatives have been launched by museums, art galleries and towns in Flanders to stay in touch

VISITFLANDERS' "Stay at Home Museum" is launched

Like all the great exhibitions of the world, that were taking place before the current lock-down. we've all had to accept that there is no way of visiting them now. The acclaimed Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution is no exception and its acclaimed opening was the first time that nearly half of Van Eyck's existing works had been able to be displayed together, at one time. Probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. With nearly all the tickets for the show sold, and not even half way through its duration, its closure was a great disappointment for the many thousands, that were looking forward to visiting soon. With the pictures still in situ and loans from galleries and museums around the world, unable to travel back to their respective homes, VISITFLANDERS were able to organise an exclusive curated tour around these masterpieces, to entertain and satisfy the curiosity of those that hadn't yet seen the show.

Introduced by the show's scientific curator Till-Holger Borchert, this very special tour, with fascinating details about some of the exhibition's key loans, is the closest thing to visiting the exhibition itself.  As part of its Stay at Home Museum concept, VISITFLANDERS will offer free virtual curated tours to the public, in order to feature some of Flanders' most coveted artists and their artistic gems. Look out for tours, every Wednesday, live streamed on Facebook Live followed by its You Tube channel for streaming at any time.  Next week, Michel Draguet, Director of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Belgium will  feature Pieter Bruegel and the world's second largest collection of Bruegel masterpieces. So, if you can't visit the Flemish Masters in person, let them come to you!

Closer to Van Eyck

Staying on the subject of Van Eyck, another interesting virtual experience worth viewing is one, undertaken by the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA, Brussels) and in collaboration with other institutions, around the work of Jan van Eyck, and in particular the Ghent Altarpiece (Ghent, Saint Bavo's Cathedral). The  Closer to Van Eyck online application will be a reference for comparative research on the work of Van Eyck to enable researchers to study for differences and similarities in the artist’s technique for the first time. It uses infra-red photos and hi-res macro photograhy to reveal the most minute of details and fine brushstrokes by Van Eyck. Looking closely, it is hard to imagine how Van Eyck completed his works without the aid of modern microscopes and only goes to confirm, what a master of oil painting he was, for his era.

Virtual highlights of the City of Leuven

Flanders' beautiful University town was due to celebrate Beer in its Leuven Beer Month in April. Sadly, while this is no longer possible, the city have posted a number of  great guides about their city, so that one day, you can visit for yourself! The city, home to the Stella Artois brewery, offer a wonderful guide to the perfect poured beer!

Other highlights include a tour of its celebrated Town Hall, University Library and Tower as well a complete virtual tour of its art museum M Leuven. And whilst the city was also due to celebrate another festival , its bi-annual &And festival, it has been able to post highlights of the previous festival also. This year's festival will be postponed until 21-24 April 2021. 

The Best of Brussels Museums - a mini virtual trip

There are over 90 museums and galleries in Brussels, and even if you’re a frequent visitor, there’s always something new to see. Here is your chance to view some of the Brussels’ best attractions in a virtual capacity.

Ghent Collections on Display

The S.M.A.K. in Ghent is home to one of the largest collections of contemporary art in Belgium. They have opened up their archives online, where you can browse more than 3000 works, dating from WW II until present day. See their works here. Meanwhile, over at the Ghent City Museum (STAM), step into the past with two immersive online experiences where you can learn about the history of the Ghent and the occupation of the city during the First World War.

Bruges in 60 seconds?

It simply isn't possible to enjoy the virtues of the beautiful city of Bruges from your armchair. But this amazing video does attempt to give you a snapshot of what the city has to offer (when you have more like 60 hours free and travel restrictions are lifted)!

A Tour of Antwerp

The city of Antwerp is home to dozens of fabulous museums and monuments. To offer a snapshot of what can be virtually visited, the city offers a wonderful free app tour of some of the city's most notable sites, all of which can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets.  Some of the museums are offering some fabulous tours of their collection. Take the UNESCO World Heritage Museum Plantin Moretus Museum for instance. Its wonderful online exhibitions include one on Bruegel and one about the creation of the Atlas. The Snijders & Rockox House, BLIND DATE exhibition, which was cancelled , has now been featured on  a You Tube clip. And elsewhere, the city musuem of Antwerp has made its exhibition halls available via a 360 degree view of its Celebration exhibition which was also cancelled.

Flanders Fields: The Last Post continues in Ypres ...

Since 1928, every night at 8 o’clock, the volunteer buglers of the Last Post Association remember those missing in the First World War in this poignant ceremony. The only time this has been interrupted was during the Second World War, when the ceremony temporarily moved to Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.  Despite the current restrictions, the Last Post continues…but with a single bugler, and with no audience present.  The remembrance continues. Watch the Last post here.

Talbot House's urgent crowd-funding appeal is launched to ensure its survival.

In December 1915, this historic WW1 Soldiers Club was started by Tubby Clayton with the goal to create a home from home for over half a million weary and homesick troops that were in the area. Here, they could meet up with friends regardless of rank, have a cup of tea, write a letter home, enjoy a well-kept garden or play the piano. In the attic, a chapel offered some comfort and provided hope for the men who had to return to the trenches. The club was so successful that soon after the war, some 500 TocH clubs sprang up throughout the Commonwealth. 

Since being founded, Talbot House's existance has been made possible, as a charitable enterprise, via a combination of subsidies from willing supporters; the first being the British Army, followed by Pilgrims, the Toc H organisation and, more lately, regional and local government subsidies and you. Today, grants and the free services of its Wardens cover almost half of the House’s annual running costs. The rest of the costs are met by people coming through the doors of Talbot House; doors that have now been closed.  

As a result, most, if not all, of the annual income generated from visitors between March and November of this year will most probably be depleted. In an effort to cost save, it has cut expenditure as far as possible, including furloughing staff contracts, and applying for a bank loan to help them, through this difficult period. Of course, these are temporary measures that, alone, will not save Talbot House.  Projected losses are estimated to be approximately €100,000 and to help the museum through this time, they have launched a Crowd Funded appeal. It is hoped that generous donors to the crowd fund will benefit from a range of rewards ranging from free overnights stays and story tours to free breakfasts and membership of its organisation.


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