City of Mechelen restores Enclosed Gardens

In October, a team of restorers started with the restoration of the first of seven Enclosed Gardens held by the Municipal Museums of Mechelen (Belgium). The collection of seven Horti Conclusi (Enclosed Gardens) dates from the 16th Century and belonged to the former convent of Mechelen's Hospital Sisters. Enclosed Gardens were mainly fabricated in the city of Mechelen, though only a few survive. Because of its extraordinary coherence and uniqueness, this collection of seven Horti Conclusi was recognised as belonging to the category of Flemish Masterpieces by the Flemish Government.

The Enclosed Gardens are testimonials of a high artistic quality, religious handicraft and devotional tradition. For the Hospital Sisters, these retables were a way to experience their devotion and spirituality. Therefore they not only contain textiles, metals, glass, painted panels and altarpieces with polychrome figures, but also relics. Today they allow us to enter the world of cloistererd communities.

The aim of the research and restoration project, which started in October, is to gather expertise on the conservation and restoration of comparable mixed-media objects. After restoration, three of the Enclosed Gardens will be presented to the public for the first time at the prestigious and international exhibition In search of Utopia in Museum M in Leuven (Belgium). By 2018, the entire collection of seven Enclosed Gardens will be on permanent display in the Municipal Museums of Mechelen (Hof van Busleyden), one of the main goals of the project.

This project is funded by the city of Mechelen. The InBev-Baillet Latour Fund administered by the King Baudouin Foundation contributes 150.000 euros for the restoration of the first three Enclosed Gardens.

Follow the restoration project online (only in Dutch)