Monumental Churches of Antwerp
“Monumentale Kerken Antwerpen (MKA) was created when five parishes in central Antwerp delegated a representative, and the municipal administration added a professional art historian, to form an association of common interest. The five monumental churches with their 12,000 listed works of art and objects of worship, represented an enormous potential for public interest which the association channelled into a proper presentation plan and harmonised conservation. They agreed in providing a common level of visitor services, a joint publications policy, and in uniting management and maintenance facilities. The jury was impressed by the very high level of work carried out, thus providing excellent services to the 600,000 visitors annually, and setting new standards of insights into, and communication of this religious, but nevertheless common cultural heritage.”
Monumentale Kerken Antwerpen (MKA) is an umbrella organisation for the Cathedral and four historic churches in Antwerp’s old centre. In the collections of these listed monuments, all great masters are represented, including Rubens, Jordaens and Van Dyck, whose works are displayed with a unique collection of sculptures, drawings and textiles, featured on the Flemish community’s Masterworks List.
Since its inception in 2005, MKA has been coordinating an innovative cultural heritage policy which highlights these churches’ unique splendour, and laying the foundations for the professional management of these buildings and their collections, as well as the professional reception of visitors. Mainly thanks to the engagement of numerous volunteers, both in public and behind the scenes, this approach and its results have made MKA one of the world’s recognised innovators with regard to in-situ conservation and the management of religious heritage.