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© Jeroen Broeckx

Rare and Indispensable

Masterpieces from Flemish collections

Magritte, Bacon, Ensor, Moore, Jordaens, Rubens … These were just some of the world-famous names on display at the MAS. The not-to-be-missed exhibition 'Rare and Indispensable' brought a unique selection of masterpieces from the Flemish masterpiece list. Works of art you normally would have to travel all over Flanders to see, or which were never even publicly accessible, could be temporarily admired in one museum hall. All in honour of the 20th anniversary of the 'Flemish Masterpiece Decree'.

'Rare and Indispensable' was an absolute must-see that took the visitor on an art-historical walk along several masterpieces from Flemish collections. Some 35 large and small museums, as well as churches, libraries and private collectors temporarily lended masterpieces from their collections. All of them works that have been included in the Flemish Masterpiece List since 2003. That decree ensures that masterpieces that meet the criteria "rare and indispensable" cannot simply leave Flanders and that they are protected and preserved.

Mediaeval manuscripts, famous paintings by Hugo Van der Goes, Rubens, Jordaens, Ensor, Magritte and Bacon, sculptures by Lucas Faydherbe and Henry Moore, a drawing by Michelangelo (the only one in Flanders) but also precious silver, an earth globe by Mercator and a rare piece of furniture by Pierre Gole, the furniture maker of the French king Louis XIV, would not leave anyone unmoved. The most modern work in the exhibition is 'Great American Nude #45' by Tom Wesselmann, from the American Pop-Art of 1963. An audio guide for adults and one tailored to children invited the visitor to look at the masterpieces differently. 

Normally, you would have to travel all over Flanders to see these masterpieces of art history. You could admire them temporarily in one place.

See also


FREE ENTRANCE | In the exhibition 'Eyecatchers', 16 Antwerp residents give their own take on our collection and choose their personal masterpiece. Because a masterpiece is something different for everyone.

From scribble to cartoon

Museum Plantin-Moretus simultaneously highlighted masterpieces on paper with a temporary exhibition 'From scribble to cartoon. Drawings from Bruegel tot Rubens'. It showed the 100 finest old drawings enlisted on the Flemish Masterpiece List.
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We offered a combination ticket that allowed visitors to visit both 'Rare and Indispensable' and 'From scribble to cartoon'.

20 years 'Flemish Masterpieces Decree'

What is valuable must be protected. That is the logic of the Flemish Masterpieces Decree. Since the creation of this decree in 2003, just about 1,000 objects and collections have been recognised and protected as masterpieces. Through decree, the government also strengthens public collections by acquiring important masterpieces.

Masterpieces from the Governement of Flanders

Flanders possesses a magnificent collection of movable cultural heritage. With the 'Masterpieces Decree', the Flemish government wants to protect these unique cultural objects. Based on the decree, a list of rare and indispensable objects was compiled. Some of them are part of the MAS collection.

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