Two medieval hospital buildings in the centre of Bruges are enjoying a new lease of life as museums.
Sint-Janshospitaal was once the city’s largest institution for the sick, the poor, and the needy. The monks and nuns who worked there left behind them a great many stories, objects, and artworks. This 800-year old building now also houses displays of furniture, paintings, and sculptures. An apothecary’s, with its medicinal herb garden and healthcare reference library, paints a picture of health care throughout the centuries.
The museum is known the world over for its masterpieces by one of the most famous of the Flemish Primitives, Hans Memling.
The hospital of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Potterie has existed since the 13th century. The worship of a miraculous painting of the Madonna gave the church its status as a place of pilgrimage, and this accounts for the elaborate decoration of the church interior.
The museum collection includes hospital objects and a number of artworks. The impressive silverware collection is also well worth a trip to Bruges’ ‘quiet quarter’.