DIVA. Antwerp Home of Diamonds
- Eva Olde Monnikhof
Open since May 2018, the new international diamond museum with a heart beating for silversmithing in Antwerp, takes you on an emotional, interactive journey that explores the different aspects of silversmithing, jewellery and of course first and foremost diamonds.
DIVA is the new name for Antwerp’s amalgamated Silver Museum and Diamond Museum. The emphasis is on diamonds, for the city-on-the-Scheldt’s economy has revolved around diamonds for centuries. At the same, the museum is so much more than diamonds. Thanks in no small part to the exceptional collection of silverware from the former Silver Museum, it is the bridge to the world in which diamonds are truly at home, the world of glamour and luxury, the world of jewellers and silversmiths.
Exceptional silver collection
DIVA's silver collection is impressive to say the least. Deriving from the former Silver Museum in Sterckshof Castle in Deurne, the collection consists of some 1,400 silver artefacts, reflecting half a millennium of Belgian silversmithing. Best represented in the collection is silver from Antwerp, and in particular from the time of the ancien régime (the system of government prior to the French Revolution in 1789). The collection is particularly well endowed with tableware, but it also boasts items of the guild and ecclesiastical silver, toilet accessories, and even a collection of curiosities. The collection tells the story of opulent Antwerp, Flanders and Belgium.
Location steeped in history
Behind Antwerp Town Hall, where DIVA is located, traces are still to be found of a neighbourhood where for more than 500 years silversmiths lived, worked and sold their products. It has been a vibrant commercial hub particularly since Antwerp’s Golden Age. Buildings sports names like De Gulden Sterre (The Golden Star) where goldsmith Jacob van der Vijlen served two shops in 1497, and Den Luipaert (The Leopard) which housed the workshops of countless gold and silversmiths. Not far away are the houses where artists Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1690) and Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678) were born. Hofstraat is home to Den Rhyn (The Rhine) behind which is a sixteenth-century building with enclosed courtyard, the site of Antwerp’s first commodity exchange which was connected to the silversmiths’ guildhall. Also close by, on the corner of de Grote and de Kleine Koraalberg, is the building which was named Den Coraeltack (Coral House) in 1579. It was the preserve of jewellers and merchants specialized in precious stones. Finally, located close to Zilversmidstraat since 1307 are the living quarters of silversmiths, chasers and embossers. These historic extracts contextualize the museum and unearth a treasure trove of stories which provide a framework for objects from its collection and for its products. Studio DIVA, a modern workshop for silversmithing and jewellery making located on the DIVA site, also links up with this dazzling history.
Rooms of Wonder at DIVA
DIVA’s Room of Wonder. The dreamy name fires the imagination. Not only is it the first room you enter when you step inside the museum, but the Room of Wonder concept is also the inspiration for a series of upcoming special exhibitions.
A tour of DIVA’s collection starts in her Room of Wonder. In this contemporary interpretation of a Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities and rarities, valuable objects from every corner of the globe are brought together in a cocoon of luxury. Visitors learn about Antwerp’s illustrious past, about the city that led the way in the production and distribution of art and luxury articles in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Silverware, jewellery, precious stones and exotic curiosities like coconuts, shells and coral were particularly sought after. In her Room of Wonder, DIVA tells visitors all about these objects and their collectors.
With the focus on silverware, jewellery and diamonds, DIVA wants to contribute to the wonderment, curiosity and exchange of knowledge triggered by material culture. So as part of a special programme, she has invited trailblazing guest curators to create their very own version of a Room of Wonder. These guest curators might be collectors, patrons, artists, fashion, jewellery or interior designers, silversmiths, architects or photographers. They are free to draw on the museum’s collection and supplement it with other (art) objects in a bid to shed light on the wonderment concept from different angles and link it to gemstones and precious metals.
Studio DIVA. Atelier for jewellery and silversmithing
Studio DIVA is an atelier for jewellery and silversmithing at the DIVA museum. The sessions are a combination of theory and practice and designed to recognize the value of our intangible cultural heritage and nurture it. The atelier welcomes both specialists and amateurs. We have a suitable programme for everyone. For specialists and professionals, we run master-classes in specific traditional and new techniques. For those new to the branch, DIVA offers residency opportunities in the atelier. Future silversmiths and jewellery designers can develop their technical skills and creative talent here. Amateurs can follow workshops throughout the year and our summer silversmithing ateliers are a regular part of our offering.
The atelier is also a fascinating place of learning for schools and very young children, introducing them to the chemistry of precious metals in an educational and fun way. Last but not least, visitors to the DIVA museum can visit the atelier on request an appointment.
DIVA’s library collection counts about 23.000 titles and contains books, magazines, yearbooks, auction catalogues and documentation. It has two sections: the Research Library and the Special Collections.
The library’s collection profile is in line with the collections of the museum on gold- and silversmith’s art, jewelry and diamond. But you can also consult the library for: a broad collection on applied arts: metals, glass, ceramics, numismatics, design, furniture, interior design; manuals on techniques and crafts; general works on cultural and economic history, art history and styles; specialized periodicals, yearbooks and auction catalogues; extensive documentation, mainly on Belgian silver.
The library also keeps a valuable historical and cultural heritage collection, containing early printed books and modern preciosa (such as original sales catalogues/model books of Belgian silver companies and gold- and silversmiths and old manuals relating to the craft). A few gems of our library can be digitally admired on the website of Flandrica. In addition, some early printed books have been added to the Short Title Catalogue Flanders (STCV), an online bibliography of books printed in Flanders before 1801.
Closed on Wednesdays
Last entry: 17.00h
Closed on: December 25, January 1.
Special opening hours on:
December 24 : 10.00 - 14.00
December 31 : 10.00 - 14.00
Standard rates € 10 // Combination ticket € 16
Reduced fee € 7 // Combination ticket: € 13
Free of charge up to the age of 12
Guided group tours by appointment
DIVA is cashless. As well online as at the entrance desk we only accept payments by card.
Exhibition 30 Oct 2022 - 30 Dec 2022 20th Silver Triennial International.
Open call 19 Sep 2022 - 06 Nov 2022 Open Call for Artists-in-Residence in the DIVA Atelier.
Exhibition 07 Jul 2022 - 10 Jul 2022 Smck on Reel. The first international video festival inspired by jewelry at Schmuck 2022. Guest of honor: Ukraine.
Open call 21 Oct 2021 - 30 Nov 2021 Open Call for Artist in Residence Programme at Studio DIVA.
Workshop 05 Jul 2021 - 09 Jul 2021 Treasure Boxes. A Masterclass by Silvia Weidenbach.
Exhibition 05 Mar 2021 - 15 Aug 2021 Masterpieces in Miniature. Treasures from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection.
Exhibition 30 Oct 2020 - 14 Mar 2021 Jewellery from the Swinging 60's and 70's.
Workshop 24 Aug 2020 - 28 Aug 2020 Forging Silver Spoons.
Meeting 28 Mar 2020 - 28 Mar 2020 Symposium: Different Colours of Contemporary Silverwork.
Workshop 23 Mar 2020 - 26 Mar 2020 Opus Interrasile: Masterclass with Helena Schepens.
Exhibition 16 Feb 2020 - 19 Apr 2020 Silver Triennial, 19th International Competition Exhibition in Antwerp.
Workshop 28 Oct 2019 - 01 Nov 2019 Handling Fine Wires. Masterclass with Giovanni Corvaja.
Exhibition 13 Sep 2019 - 16 Feb 2020 Room of Wonder II curated by Katrin Wouters and Karen Hendrix.
- Eva Olde Monnikhof