Maison du patrimoine médiéval mosan

Claire-Marie Vandermensbrugghe


The Mosan medieval heritage centre

Place du Bailliage 16 B- 5500 Bouvignes/Dinant

(Bouvignes, Belgium)
2009 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Prize for Education, Training and Awareness Raising

Preserve and enhance the local, regional and cross-border heritage

The origin of the project
The Mosan medieval heritage centre is in the fabulous "Maison espagnolePrime; (Spanish House) in the Meuse Valley in a village near Dinant. The project was born in 1995. The former "Maison espagnolePrime; was refurbished in order to enhance the studies on the medieval heritage of Bouvignes, Dinant and their surroundings. This was carried out thanks to public partnership and the support of the European Union. The project is managed by a non-profit organisation.  The further developments will be in the hands of a scientific committee made up of both the founders of the project and experts on the Middle Ages and the Meuse Valley. It has been open since 1st May 2008.

The history of the MPMM
A building standing in the centre of the medieval borough was already referred to as the "Grande maison du marcheacute;" (big market house) in the 15th century. It was burnt down when Bouvignes was sacked by the troops of the King of France in 1554. Its cellars were used as foundations for the "Maison espagnole".  It was built about 1570 and was originally the property of Gobert Maistrecocq, a rich ironmaster, and its name alludes to the period when Bouvignes was dependent on the crown of Spain. In 1681 it was referred to as "one of the town's most outstanding houses". In 1888, it became the Town Hall and a boys' school. When an act of Parliament amalgamated the municipalities in 1964 the building acquired a cultural vocation. Today it is owned by the Town of Dinant and has been listed as a historic building since 1948. It has now taken on a new lease of life.

Our aims
•    Preserve and enhance the local, regional and cross-border heritage;
•    Reaffect a listed monument which is also public property;
•    Provide play-centered teaching for children and family groups;
•    Help to enhance quality cultural tourism;
•    Make scientific research accessible;
•    Provoke and nurture thought and feelings regarding long-lasting regional development;
•    Implement strategies to improve the relationship between the local population and the museum.

Discovering the museum
Several interactive tools mark the route of the permanent exhibition visit, illustrated by pictures on the medieval Meuse. The ultimate objective is to re-appropriate the medieval inheritance to gain a better understanding of the constituent elements of our environment and contribute to their future management.

The Meuse
 An exceptional 5.5 meter-long model represents the Meuse Valley between Sedan and Maastricht. Its history is discovered through the tracks left to us. People's everyday life along the river is also depicted.

Behind the walls: the town and castle
The castle and the city enable us to approach the military, urban and architectural aspects of the Middle Ages. Original illustrations and displays sometimes highlight a castle motte, sometimes Bouvignes, a medieval city. 

Shadows and lights
Going through medieval society we meet and interact with people in their everyday lives and their rural activities.

Between Heaven and Earth
An atmosphere of meditation suddenly interrupts the route to evoke the role of the Church in parishes and monasteries. Various types of graves illustrate the evolution of burial customs.

Art in everyday life
The magnificent medieval cellars are the right place to exhibit the three craft activities well-documented by recent archaeological researches: ceramic, brasswork (copper) and leatherwork. 

The visitors discover by means of various technical devices how Bouvignes was created and how it developed over time. They also see how the "city" has retained 50% of its original structure through the centuries.

New year, new theme. In 2010, we raise a glass to the Meuse Valley wine industry: from harvesting, to production, to marketing.

Our public
The MPMM offers guided tours and activities adapted to different kinds of public. Our museum welcomes:
•    Students from the youngest to the oldest, with adapted activities;
•    Individuals or families visiting the region;
•    Foreigners tourists (translation into Dutch, German, English);
•    Educational associations;
•    Researchers.
The museum is organised pedagogically. This attracts many schools to visit the MPMM.


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