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Museum in Leuven Opens with New Building and Rogier van der Weyden Exhibition
Restauration de la Pièta menée par les Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique. Restaurateur : Thanh-Nghi Pham. Avec le soutien du Fonds InBev-Baillet Latour © M-Leuven.

LEUVEN, BELGIUM.- In 2002 the City of Leuven decided that the Vander Kelen-Mertens municipal museum should be substantially enlarged and adapted to meet modern-day requirements. In 2004 an international competition was launched and from the short-list of five the jury chose the Stéphane Beel firm of architects which has international experience of museum architecture. Stéphane Beel's past achievements include the Central Museum in Utrecht (1994/99) and the Rubens' House pavilion in Antwerp (1997). Current projects include extending the deSingel arts centre in Antwerp and renovating the Royal Museum for Central African in Tervuren.

Stéphane Beel's design successfully integrates the former Vander Kelen-Mertens museum to provide a balanced whole with clean lines. He has managed to create a complex in which existing and new architecture complement each other; an architecture in which early and contemporary art can interact.

The design was fine-tuned between 2004 and 2006 and building work began in November 2006.

By September 2008 the shell of the building was finished and the starting-signal given for the M year when M will be made ready for the implementation of the museum's core tasks: preserving the collection in the best possible conditions, researching and exhibiting it and allowing it to enter into a dialogue with the public and with contemporary art.

From its festive opening on September 20th through until December 6th 2009, Leuven's new-look museum will host two exhibitions: the Vercruysse exhibition and the exhibition Rogier van der Weyden 14001464 - Master of Passions. The museum collection contains a number of works which have a connection with Rogier van der Weyden’s oeuvre. Leuven is also the place where Rogier van der Weyden painted his masterpiece Descent from the Cross (now in the Prado, Madrid). The exhibition will occupy the whole of the first floor of the new museum complex.

The exhibition Rogier van der Weyden 14001464 - Master of Passions explores the work of Rogier van der Weyden and his imitators.

Rogier van der Weyden was born in Tournai around the year 1400. In 1435 he left his hometown and settled in Brussels, where he held the prestigious office of city painter. In Brussels his art demonstrated an exceptional ability to portray emotion. It is typified by controlled pathos and dignified emotion and subtly expressive figures. In fact, Van der Weyden's oeuvre can be seen as a milestone in the development of the visual arts, for he inspired and influenced generations of artists well into the sixteenth century. Along with Jan van Eyck, he is rightly regarded as the most important painter in the Southern Netherlands in the fifteenth century.

The juxtaposition of Van der Weyden's art with that of contemporaries and later emulators in a range of disciplines will leave visitors in no doubt about the painter's extraordinary artistic and international significance.

In bringing together more than 100 masterpieces by Rogier van der Weyden and his contemporaries from major European and American collections, the exhibition Rogier van der Weyden 14001464 - Master of Passions will demonstrate the extraordinary impact of this master on the world of art.

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