What is valuable must be protected. That is the logic of the Flemish Masterpieces Decree. Since the creation of this decree in 2003, some 1,000 objects and collections have been recognised and protected as masterpieces because of their exceptional historical, cultural-historical, archaeological, scientific or artistic significance.
This is done after investigation and consideration: movable cultural heritage is given a masterpiece status if it is considered rare and indispensable. The Masterpieces Council supports the government in protecting and restoring masterpieces and advises on acquisitions. Indeed, through the decree, the government strengthens public collections by acquiring important masterpieces.
Before the decree existed, portraits by Jacob Jordaens left Flanders to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the London National Gallery was able to acquire four magnificent still lifes by Joachim Beuckelaar in 2001. So today, thanks to the Masterpieces Decree, these pieces could no longer leave Flanders.
Together with the MAS, the Flemish government (Department of Culture, Youth and Media and Event Flanders) is organising the exhibition 'Rare and Indispensable' on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of this Masterpieces Decree. A prestigious exhibition in which Flemish Masterpieces of the highest quality are selected to be shown together in a unique way.
The MAS itself also holds 10 recognised Flemish Masterpieces, of which the tile tableau 'The Conversion of Saul' by Franchois Frans (see image above), is on display in the exhibition. 'The cope of Nonnemielen' can be admired in the exhibition 'Eyecatchers' in the Visible Storage on the second floor.