1. It is the biggest Jan van Eyck exhibition ever.
The core of the exhibition consists of the eight restored exterior panels of the Ghent Altarpiece. As the altarpiece has been exceptionally given on loan by St Bavo's Cathedral, the panels are displayed outside the cathedral for the first and last time in history.
During the exhibition, the eight exterior panels of the Ghent Altarpiece will be on display for the very last time in the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (MSK) together with the still to be restored paintings of Adam and Eva. The 10 remaining panels of the Ghent Altarpiece, including the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, remain on display in St Bavo's Cathedral.
Across several exhibition rooms, the panels are displayed at eye height, allowing the public to marvel at their vivid colours, wonderful details and tangible textures from up close. In this unique presentation, they are accompanied by at least half of all works attributed to Jan Van Eyck.
Only some twenty paintings by Jan Van Eyck have been preserved worldwide. At least half of those have travelled to the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (MSK). They are shown together with works from Van Eyck’s workshop and copies of paintings that have been lost as well as over 100 masterpieces from the late Middle Ages. Admire Jan Van Eyck’s beauty and mastery in no fewer than 13 museum rooms.
2. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Come closer than ever to Jan Van Eyck’s mastery and admire his revolutionary technique and his genius in detail. ‘Van Eyck. An optical revolution’ is an exhibition you will only experience once in a lifetime, and takes place within the scope of the thematic year ‘OMG! Van Eyck was here’ in Ghent.
Curious about the astonishment felt by Jan van Eyck’s contemporaries when they saw his work? During the exhibition, the general public can see the restored exterior panels of the Ghent Altarpiece in their original condition for the very first time, in addition to several other masterpieces. They now look exactly like they were seen by Jan Van Eyck’s contemporaries.
3. Jan Van Eyck himself never saw so many of his works brought together
Even Jan Van Eyck himself never saw all these masterpieces together under one roof. In addition to the restored exterior panels of the Ghent Altarpiece and the Adam and Eva panels, no fewer than 13 other masterpieces are on display. These works of art have never been at the same place before.
The last time that panels of the Ghent Altarpiece were displayed outside St Bavo's Cathedral was in 1902. After the exhibition, the panels will return to the cathedral never to leave it again.
4. You really must see this optical revolution with your own eyes
The optical revolution started by Jan van Eyck 600 years ago remains fascinating to this day. This Flemish Master perfected the composition of oil paint and thus created unparalleled colour effects. In addition, he was the first painter to perfectly imitate gold without using gold leaf.
Jan Van Eyck observed the world, making his portraits and landscapes appear true to life. In his time, his technique for depicting clouds and the moon, splashing water in a fountain, distant snow-capped mountain tops and body hair was unprecedented.
In addition to his ability to imitate reality, he was also a master of creating illusions. The portrait of Joos Vijd and his wife Elisabeth Borluut, the commissioners of the Ghent Altarpiece, or the grisaille paintings of the Virgin Annunciate and the Archangel Gabriel on the Annunciation diptych are so lifelike that they appear to be located in shallow niches. With this kind of trompe-l’oeil effect, Jan Van Eyck seems to compete with reality
5. The optical revolution is for everyone
Everyone gets the chance to see Jan van Eyck’s mastery from up close. The exhibition is accessible for visitors with a physical disability. Wheelchair users can take a barrier-free route to the Van Eyck exhibition.
Visitors with a hearing impairment can listen to the audio guide or guide on their hearing aid through a mobile hearing induction loop. In addition, the written audio texts are available on request.
The museum offers the room texts and adapted audio texts to visitors with a visual impairment. In addition, museum guides with tactile drawings are available for an optimal experience. Upon request, visitors can be assisted by someone who will guide them through the exhibition and provide them with descriptions of the works of art.
There is also an autism-friendly road map to prepare a visit to the exhibition in the best possible way.
6. Van Eyck for all ages
Thanks to the family offer, you can discover old art through the eyes of the youngest museum visitors. When they enter, the youngest visitors receive an audio guide for children aged between 6 and 12 (available in Dutch, French, English and German) as well as a Van Eyck booklet with stamps and fun assignments.
7. Let your creativity run wild at the workshops
After an inspiring visit to the Van Eyck exhibition, you can get creative with an unguided Van Eyck workshop. In addition, you can attend other workshops given by museum guides twice a week. Activities include sketching, portrait or miniature painting, brooch making, improving your observation skills, etc. These activities are always included in your admission ticket.
Jan Van Eyck and the Ghent Altarpiece
Who was Jan van Eyck, and what makes the Ghent Altarpiece so special? Discover more on these pages!