As from Friday, the DIVA museum is back, with a renewed permanent exhibition, a new masterpiece from the Flemish Community and a festive reopening weekend

Today, the Flemish Minister for Culture Jan Jambon unveiled the Brussels toiletry set, a new showpiece in the museum, and Antwerp Alderman for Culture Nabilla Ait Daoud opened 'DIVA, a Brilliant Story'.

The permanent exhibition route has been transformed and many new acquisitions will be on display as from 24 March in the renewed DIVA museum. The reopening weekend on Saturday 25 March and Sunday 26 March includes some fun activities for all ages.

Permanent exhibition ‘DIVA, a Brilliant Story’

DIVA was closed over the past months for several major renovation activities in this beautiful museum building. The roofs have been renovated to comply with Flemish legislation and we took the opportunity to restore the façade and stained-glass windows. "It was necessary to close the exhibition galleries in order to carry out the building work, so we made the most of the opportunity for some extra improvement. The permanent exhibition has not only been updated, it has also quite literally changed direction. Visitors now start on the 2nd floor, in the brand new raw materials gallery where they discover the source of diamonds and precious metals. They also learn about terms such as 'fair mining' and 'urban mining' and can admire plenty of new acquisitions in the gallery," says Alderman for Culture Nabilla Ait Daoud.

In seven themed galleries, visitors can explore the different phases in a jewel or silver work. They discover how diamonds are mined, how gold- and silversmiths work, and learn more about the artistic craftsmanship and uses of these beautiful objects. In the museum that sparkles, visitors can admire 650 diamonds, jewels and silver objects from the 15th century to the present day. 

Brussels toiletry set, the new showpiece from the Flemish Community and other gems in the DIVA collection

An eleven-part silver toiletry set with Brussels labels, dating back to between 1676 and 1725, is one of the real eye-catchers in the new permanent exhibition at DIVA. This set is extremely rare in the Southern Netherlands and was bought by the Flemish Community with resources from the Topstukkenfonds (Masterpieces Fund). After all, the pieces in such sets were often melted down, or separated over time. Besides five boxes and a wash basin, this unique example also includes two brushes, a silver cosmetic mirror and a glove tray or gantière

Jan JambonMinister-President and Flemish Minister of Culture says: “The Masterpieces Decree gives Flanders the chance to gradually acquire, protect, examine, retain and exhibit cultural heritage of special importance to a wide audience. The Brussels toiletry set is a unique object that tells us more about the rich history of silver workshops in the Southern Netherlands. This showpiece is extremely unusual, but also a real asset for a museum like DIVA. Everyday objects, such as the Brussels toiletry set, contain a wealth of information about the lives of earlier generations of Flemish people. I am delighted that the general public will soon get the chance to admire this masterpiece.”

DIVA has added the toiletry set to the third themed gallery, the Boudoir, where people got ready for dinner or an evening out. Before putting on their sparkling jewels, the 18th- and 19th-century elite distinguished themselves by ‘beautifying themselves’. They washed themselves using a pitcher and wash basin, put on clean clothes appropriate to the time of day, and used scented water or perfume. Visible make-up was inappropriate in those days. Following the example of the French court, powder en rouge (blush) was used.


© Toiletry set, 17th and 18th century, Cornelius II van Eesbeeck - Daniel Pijlemans- Franciscus T’Serstevens, Brussels, Belgium, B501/3, Collection Flemish Community, on loan at DIVA (Photo: Dominique Provost)
© Toiletry set, 17th and 18th century, Cornelius II van Eesbeeck - Daniel Pijlemans- Franciscus T’Serstevens, Brussels, Belgium, B501/3, Collection Flemish Community, on loan at DIVA (Photo: Dominique Provost)

Meanwhile, the 16th-century owl cup - on loan from the Heritage Fund of the King Baudouin Foundation - and 18 other objects in the DIVA museum have also been provisionally awarded the exceptional status of masterpiece. More details will follow in a later communication once they are officially included in the masterpiece list.

DIVA’s acquisitions

Since DIVA's opening in 2018, the DIVA collection has been enriched with all kinds of special acquisitions, thanks to purchases, donations and preservation by the vzw Sint-Augustinus, the Bisdom Antwerpen, the King Baudouin Foundation and the Flemish Community. DIVA has, among other things, extended its jewellery section with examples from art nouveau and art deco, and also from contemporary designers.

Reopening weekend

As from Friday 24 March, the museum will reopen its doors to the public. During the weekend of 25 and 26 March, fun activities are planned, the cost of which is included in the entrance ticket. In the new audio tour, which is free of charge, visitors discover more than 30 stories about DIVA’s objects and, in the Dutch family tour ‘Ekster’ (Magpie) now guides children aged 7 and upwards for an ​ exciting adventure through the permanent exhibition.

On Saturday and Sunday, everyone can come and watch the most spectacular way to make jewellery. During the sling casting demonstration the sling is wound and released every half hour in the DIVA atelier. Curator-conservator Kristina Valiulis gives a unique glimpse behind the scenes and shows how she handles the objects before they arrive in the gallery during the silver-cleaning demonstration. History lovers can follow the history of dining cultures, eating habits and the rules of etiquette twice a day by joining the Dutch open guided tour ‘Aan Tafel’ (Dinner's ready!). 

On Saturday, the artist Luca Kortekaas X Staircase Antwerpen will paint at the front doors of the museum. She is making her own interpretation of the three objects that are featured on the reopening posters.

Sunday is family day, with a family workshop: children and parents work together to create their own art-nouveau inspired jewellery in beeswax. Not only that, visitors giving the correct answer to the topical question about the DIVA museum will get a free ice cream from BICICLETTA GERMAINE. Discover the extensive programme on the DIVA website. Tickets are available online. The reading room in the library remains accessible by appointment.

Copyright headerimage: ​ Dining Room ©Tom Cornille




Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.

About DIVA, museum for diamonds, jewellery and silver

DIVA is the museum for diamonds, jewellery and silver in Antwerp. A themed exhibition trail will take visitors on a journey through Antwerp’s diamond story, from illustrious past to awe-inspiring present. Some 600 objects from DIVA’s collection are presented in such a way that the public can engage with them in a meaningful way. Exhibition sets, soundscapes, multimedia and interactive displays bring a different story to life in each of the six themed rooms, thereby involving visitors, sustaining their interest, challenging them to unlock the deeper layers and enriching their overall experience.    


Suikerrui 17-19 2000 Antwerpen

0032 495 89 33 12

[email protected]