Ghent City Museum

Ghent, Belgium

The Ghent City Museum (STAM) exposes the city history. With respect to the collection that is shown, the history of this museum goes back to 1833, the year in which the Oudheidkundig Museum van de Bijloke in Ghent was founded. In 1928 the museum was situated in the Bijloke abbey - this led to the name Bijlokemuseum.

With the Bijloke collection as base and the Bijloke abbey and Bijloke monastery as buildings, the STAM functions as a modern-day heritage forum. Parts from other collections were added to the Bijloke collection. In connection to the historical buildings a new entrance building was constructed, designed by Ghent's city architect Koen Van Nieuwenhuyse.

The main circuit of the Ghent City Museum serves as a museal and multimedial introduction to a visit to the city of Ghent. The past of the town is illustrated, but also today's life and the future are discussed. The temporary STAM collections describe the phenomenon of 'urbanity' by means of contemporary issues. STAM refers the visitor to the city itself and to Ghent's cultural heritage.

Eyecatching parts of the museum are the sky picture of Ghent (300 m² large) on which the visitors can walk around, and software with which Ghent can be viewed in detail and over the course of four centuries. In the Bijloke abbey that can be accessed through a passerelle in glass, the history of the city is told by means of three hundred objects. Views on Ghent is another multimedial application: a screen shows a city view from the year 1534, floor-plans from 1614 and 1912 and a sky picture from the present. There is also a room for temporary exhibitions.

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Details

Founded: 2010
Category: Museums in Belgium

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ed J Brown (2 years ago)
It's a really great museum. Possibly the best city museum I've been to. Very comprehensive and interesting.
Loránt Vincze (2 years ago)
Great and entertaining museum. I could have walk around for hours. The crime exhibition seemed particularly interesting and intriguing.
Sean Broughton (2 years ago)
Loved the museum. Not a criticism in the slightest, but If you're not a Flemish or French speaker then the audio guide is essential as there are no English signs. The map room showing aerial views of the whole city is particularly good.
Denver (2 years ago)
Beautiful museum with a fascinating exhibition on the city of Ghent and another on crime and the police that investigate them. The exhibition on the museum of crime is temporary and well worth the visit. The cost of the visit is included in your ticket to the main exhibition. The permanent exhibition costs 2 euro for youth under 26 and barely more for adults. Throughout the rooms, it shows how Ghent evolved from prehistoric settlements to Gaelic invasion all the way to today. It is wonderfully curated and entertaining. NOTE: plan several hours for your visit. The interactive parts of the exhibition will keep you busy for long.
Bobby Allen (3 years ago)
This museum is fascinating! It gives a great peek into the history of Ghent and it’s enjoyable to wander the buildings and grounds of this old hospital zone and imagine what it must have been like 100’s of years ago. There are some cool LEGO towers here, and interesting exhibitions- I just wish I had seen the English language booklet for the crime exhibition sooner.
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.