The Maidens’ House is a former orphanage for girls, called ‘maegdeckens’. Inside the beautiful building, visitors can discover the history of orphan girls and the care for the poor in Antwerp. The rich art collection, with works by Rubens, Van Dyck and Jordaens, fits in surprisingly well with that story.
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.