INSPIRED BY BRUEGEL
The museum is home to a unique collection of more than 120 historical buildings and numerous objects originating from different Flemish regions and eras. The museum has been listed as a protected monument since 1996.
Bruegel and Bokrijk... the connection is more obvious than you might think! This lively open-air, activity-centred museum focuses on people’s daily lives in the past, present and future. And the ‘common’ people are central in Bruegel's works too. You really feel as if you are actually in a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. And that is exactly what the first curator Dr Jozef Weyns had in mind when he formed the Bokrijk Museum in 1958. Jozef Weyns took a great part of his inspiration from Pieter Bruegel the Elder. You can feel and see that in the surroundings, in the landscape and in two of the historic buildings at the Open-Air Museum. And that inspiration is why the house-barn-stable from Vorselaar was intentionally assembled as an example of the type of 16th-century farmhouse that we see in Bruegel's paintings. Many people want to appropriate a piece of Bruegel. And many different stories have circulated about Bruegel's origin. The Oil Pressing Mill of Ellikom (Oudsbergen) was near the ‘Ooievaarsnest’ ('Stork’s Nest') in Grote-Brogel (Peer), which was Bruegel’s birthplace, according to local tradition.
WHO WAS BRUEGEL?
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (around 1526/28) is an icon in Flanders and far beyond. His work is being rediscovered by generation after generation and it forms a part of our collective memory. Bruegel's fame stands in stark contrast to our factual knowledge about his life. The exact date and place of his birth are still unknown.
From the start of his career, Pieter Bruegel shows a special interest in landscapes. The landscapes and sceneries must have played an important role during his relatively short but rich career. Bruegel enjoyed much recognition as a landscape artist in his own time, and a number of Bruegel landscapes are still among the highlights of Western landscape painting today. Moreover, Bruegel was a pioneer – he was the first to paint large-scale winter landscapes and scenes of the seasons.
Bruegel's time was a turbulent period, during which the Spaniards ruled the Low Countries. Particularly towards the end of his life, there were many religious, political and economic troubles. The times were certainly bitter for the common man.
Bruegel's work was particularly popular during his lifetime. But it was especially so after his death, when it was copied extremely well, firstly by his sons Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564-1638) and Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625). And that made Pieter Bruegel the Elder the forefather of a dynasty of artists. Bruegel still appeals to the imagination. He is one of the few artists who evokes an entire universe. Bruegel takes people as a measure of things and holds up a mirror to his viewers, often in a humorous way. That is precisely why his work is so recognizable and relevant more than 450 years later.
Are you curious about where our current customs and traditions stem from? At the Bokrijk Open-Air Museum, you will discover how the past is inspiring our future! Come to Bokrijk and immerse yourself in the story of craftsmanship and admire our demonstrations or even roll up your sleeves and join in one of our fascinating workshops. Besides offering the art of baking bread and the history of textiles, we will also tell you all about brewing a craft beer (BKRK Beer) in our museum brewery the Paenhuys.
The Open-Air Museum is located in a 550-hectare park, which is a dream environment for hikers and cyclists. Visit the Arboretum or explore the 'De Wijers' pond area with its 'Cycling through Water’ experience. Your children or grandchildren can enjoy themselves to their heart's content in our large outdoor playground, which is free of charge.