In the coming years, the City of Bruges and the Province of West Flanders will invest in a brand-new, state-of-the-art heritage depot for Musea Brugge and Raakvlak. This will ensure the future of both collections. The new building will be known as “de Erfgoedfabriek” or the Heritage Factory.
From 2023 onwards, the archaeological collection and a large part of the other museum collections will be transferred to this new building. This will require no fewer than 50,000 artefacts and 256 running metres of archaeological finds to be made ready for the move. Via our relocation blog, we will keep you informed about the progress of this ‘behind the scenes’ preparatory work.
The new Erfgoedfabriek is situated on the Blauwe Toren industrial estate. It is a former factory building that is being completely renovated and transformed to meet the very specific construction requirements that a heritage depot demands. Together with Claeys/Haelvoet Architects, Musea Brugge will convert this industrial property into a series of compartmentalised depot spaces with the necessary stable climate. In this way, every different type of material can be stored and preserved in the right conditions. As a crucial element in this renovation process, the city authorities wish to place a clear focus on sustainability. One of the most striking features of the new building will be a huge canopy that stretches across the entire length of the Erfgoedfabriek.
At the moment, Museum Brugge has a massive 75,000 items in its various collections – and that is without counting archaeological artefacts! Most of these objects are connected in one way or another with the city’s rich history. There are several sub-collections, including the panels of the 15th century Flemish Primitives and Flemish paintings from the 16th century. There are also collections for both the fine arts and the applied arts. Last but not least, Musea Brugge is also responsible for the care of a supralocal folklore collection, as well as the collections of the Bruges Public Welfare Agency (OCMW Brugge) and the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady).
At any one time, less than 5 percent of these 75,000 artefacts are on public display. Good depot facilities and good depot management are therefore crucial for our operations. The artefacts are currently stored in seven separate buildings in Bruges city centre, none of which were ever intended to serve as a museum depot. For this reason, from 2023 onwards we will be moving the largest part of the museum collection to the new Erfgoedfabriek, which has been specially designed to comply with the highest storage norms. The depots for paintings and the Print Cabinet will be housed in BRUSK, our new exhibition location in the Bruges Museum Quarter.
Musea Brugge and Raakvlak (the inter-municipal agency for immoveable heritage) both have living collections, which will continue to grow in the future through new purchases, donations and excavations. With this in mind, the new depot has loading bays and quarantine/treatment areas for heritage items and archaeological finds, so that new acquisitions can immediately be added to the collection in a responsible manner.
Raakvlak will be given a new workplace, which will include offices, meeting rooms, a photo studio, a ‘puzzle’ space (for reconstructing fragments), a washing area (for excavated finds) and an educational space. Thanks to resources made available by the Province of West Flanders, the Erfgoedfabriek will also serve as a regional heritage depot. Collections from Bruges and the surrounding area (Brugse Ommeland) will also find a home here. So too will the city’s costume workshop and the costume depots of both the Holy Blood procession and the Golden Tree pageant.