The Erasmus House, constructed between 1450 and 1515 and regarded as one of the oldest surviving private houses in Brussels, owes its name and fame to humanist Desiderius Erasmus, also known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, who spent time here in 1521. It was restored in 1932 by architect Charles Van Elst, who took an unabashedly historical approach to his work, and then became a museum dedicated to the Renaissance giant. The exhibition chronicles Erasmus’s life and the intellectual world of the Renaissance through a collection of artworks. A triptych from Hieronymus Bosch’s studio complements engravings and paintings by Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein the Younger, Cornelis Metsys and Joos van Clève as well as murals from the 17th century. A rich collection of precious 16th-century books and original editions of Erasmus’s works charts the thinking of this great mind. With its reconstructed period interior, the museum illustrates the history of the Renaissance. At the back are a garden of simples, a garden of medicinal plants that was created by René Pechère in 1987, and a philosophical garden, designed by Benoît Fondu in 2000 and featuring installations by contemporary artists. The Erasmus House and its gardens serve as a venue for conferences, concerts, workshops and exhibitions, making them a major cultural hub for the municipality. (Listed 25/10/1938)
Guided tours of the philosophical garden and the garden of simples: Sat. & Sun. at 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:30 (in French); 10:30, 14:00 and 15:00 (in Dutch) (duration: 45 minutes). Discover the Erasmus House’s gardens – a convivial space and a natural, peaceful oasis in the heart of the city. This is the perfect place to reflect on the philosophy and work of the man they call the ‘Prince of the Humanists’.
Demonstration: Restoration of old book bindings
The Erasmus House holds a fascinating collection of old editions of his books, most of them dating from the 16th century. These are fragile and must be handled with great care. Our two expert restorers will share their love of what they do with you and will even give you an exclusive peek into their restoration workshop. Come and watch them and chat with them about their work! The restoration workshop will be open from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00.
Exhibition: “Sün Evrard. Swinging books”. Artist Sün Evrard is a practitioner of the intricate art of bookbinding. She turns books into valuable organic objets d’art by combining refined materials – paper, leather, parchment, animal skins and wood – with innovative techniques inspired by old bindings, while always bearing in mind the contents of the works. The exhibition juxtaposes this original, sensory creation with contemporary bindings of 16th-century books from the Erasmus House’s collections. In cooperation with the Bibliotheca Wittockiana (Book Arts and Bookbinding Museum) and ARA Belgica (the Belgian chapter of Les Amis de la Reliure d’Art, or the Friends of Art Bookbinding).
Sat. & Sun., 10:00 to 18:00
Rue de Formanoir/De Formanoirstraat 31, Anderlecht
By reservation only