Ghent Altarpiece aims to attract more tourists with new location

The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb now hangs in its new home. Image: Cedric Verhelst ( CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The 15th-century altarpiece, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by the Van Eyck brothers, is moved to a different location. It is now on display in the brand-new visitor centre in Ghent’s St. Bavo Cathedral. Although foreign tourists are not yet welcome in Belgium, Tourisme Vlaanderen hopes the new location will put the panel-painting and its journey in an international spotlight.

The new visitor centre of the Ghent Altarpiece took two years to build. Parts of the cathedral underwent restoration, and a new entrance was build as well. The designers also considered the experience of the visitors, according to Belgian news platform VRT NWS. With the help of ”augmented reality”, you can learn more about the history of the panels and the cathedral.


The painting will be preserved in a large bullet-proof glass case located in the cathedral’s Sacrament Chapel. The total cost of the upgrade is estimated at around €30m, according to BBC News. A hefty fee, but worth every cent according to Matthias Diependaele, Flemish Minister of Tangible Heritage. ”For Flanders, the St. Bavo Cathedral and The Mystic Lamb are priceless. They show the richness of Flemish culture and history.”

The Lamb of God forms the ultimate centre of the massive 12 panel-painting. Its restoration a few years ago caused controversy, DW reported in January 2020. Image: Dominique Provost ( CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Apart from its value as cultural heritage, the panel painting and cathedral form a massive tourist hotspot, with 1 million visitors last year. ”After corona, this centre will help to attract tourists back to Flanders”, Diependaele mentioned. 

International journey

Peter de Wilde, CEO of Tourisme Vlaanderen, is happy with the new visitor centre. ”Nowadays, you can admire our Flemish Masters in leading museums across the world”, he said. ”But if you really want to know how and where these masters lived and worked, you simply have to visit Flanders.”

De Wilde hopes to promote the new visitor centre through an international campaign as well. The documentary ”Het Lam Gods: de terugkeer van zijn goddelijke kleuren” (transl: The Ghent Altarpiece: the return of its divine colours) shows the altarpiece’s turbulent history and the effects of time and travelling on its colours. The original colours became visible again after a recent restoration. You can watch the documentary below.

Source: BBC News, DW, VRT NWS (Dutch) and Wikipedia

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