On the Mechelsplein, one of Antwerp’s hippest squares, you’ll find the Maagdenhuis (Maidens’ House). This mighty building, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, impresses with its stately facade and surprises with its beautiful courtyard. Until 1882, the Maidens’ House was a girls’ orphanage. Orphans were educated here, and they also learned to sew, make lace and carry out household chores.
One of the showpieces of the art collection is the unique collection of porridge bowls made from polychrome Antwerp ceramic – the forerunner of Delftware. However, the collection is extremely rich in variety: paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Jordaens, an oil painting panel from 1500 with The Seven Works of Mercy, … It also contains the 17th-century ‘Houten Clara’, the wooden sculpture that inspired the Flemish novelist Hendrik Conscience to write his eponymous novel.
More than art
The Maidens’ House harbours more than just the works of the great masters. Discover with us the story of the foundlings, orphans and poor people of Antwerp throughout the centuries. You’ll dive deep into sensitive subjects, such as poverty, the abandonment of babies and solidarity. The everyday objects belonging to the orphans will make this unique piece of social history tangible. By the way, did you know that the Antwerp baby hatch (or foundling wheel) was first put into use in 1812?
- This guided tour is suitable for groups of adults
- Maximum 15 persons per group
- Duration: 90 minutes