Lonely Planet Writer

Explore Renaissance life at this newly opened Belgian museum

If you’ve always wondered what daily life in the Renaissance might have looked like, this recently-renovated museum has the answer you’re looking for.

During the Renaissance, the concept of man being at the centre of the universe began to rise. Photo by © Sophie Nuytten

The Hof van Busleyden Museum is located in Mechelen, a city in the province of Antwerp in modern-day Belgium that used to be the capital of the Burgundian Netherlands in the 14th and 15th century. And, after two renovations, the museum is open again to shed light on what the Renaissance really was in this part of the world.

The museum opened for the first time in 1914, and for the second in 2018. Photo by © Sophie Nuytten

The location is the beautiful city palace that used to belong to Hieronymus Van Busleyden, a famous humanist, and patron of the arts. The same humanist spirit animates the Museum today — wandering around its halls you can find the Burgundian Renaissance explained through history, ideas, power, and craftsmanship.

Van Busleyden was a friend of prominent Renaissance figures like Thomas More and Erasmus. Photo by © Sophie Nuytten

Various rooms in the Museum will transport you into the daily life of people in the Renaissance, and link it to today. For example, every year the Museum will highlight three different communities of the city of Mechelen, giving its visitors the chance to connect the Burgundian period to the modern day.

Linking the past and present is one of the Museum’s main goals. Photo by © Sophie Nuytten

“Now as then, the palace is a meeting place where new ideas are born and art is collected and displayed,” reads the museum’s website. The Van Busleyden also features temporary exhibitions, activities for children and school groups, and city projects, in a true attempt at recreating the humanist spirit that animated the Renaissance.

The museum has several activities dedicated to its younger visitors. Photo by © Sophie Nuytten

You can find more information about the Museum on its official website here.