In DIVA – the museum for diamonds, jewellery, and silver – you can enjoy the renewed permanent exhibition ‘DIVA, a Brilliant Story’.
Located in the diamond center of the world (Antwerp), DIVA gives you the fascinating history of diamonds and silversmithing in Antwerp, and you can discover the trade, craftsmanship, and consumption of the ultimate luxury products.
The museum opened in May 2018, as an amalgamation of the former Diamond Museum and the Silver Museum. In a stately building a stone’s throw from the Grote Markt, diamonds, jewellery and silver are displayed in a contemporary and interactive way. In addition to the literally magnificent collection, the museum offers a diverse programme. For example, you can follow workshops, or pay a visit to the library.
In its permanent exhibition ‘DIVA, a Brilliant Story’, you will discover the different stages of a piece of jewellery or silverware; from mine to finished product. You will learn how diamonds are mined, how silversmiths work, and the art and use of these beautiful objects. Feast your eyes on 650 diamonds, jewellery and silver objects from the 15th century to today.
575 years of diamond history
Diamonds and Antwerp have been inextricably linked for 575 years. During its flourishing period (Golden Age of Flanders) and long after that, Antwerp was also an international centre for silversmithing, renowned for its fine craftsmanship and creativity. From the sixteenth century, the Grote Markt and the surrounding streets were the go-to destination for those looking for objects made of gold, silver or precious stones. The River Scheldt was invaluable to merchants and explorers transporting precious stones and metals to Europe.
Historic location for silversmiths and traders
Behind Antwerp Town Hall, where DIVA is located, traces are still to be found of a neighbourhood where for more than 500 years silversmiths and jewellers lived, worked and sold their products. It has been a vibrant commercial hub particularly since Antwerp’s Golden Age. 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’. Finally, located close to Zilversmidstraat since 1307 are the living quarters of silversmiths, chasers and embossers.
Room of Wonder
Your first steps inside DIVA take you into the Room of Wonder.
In this contemporary interpretation of a chamber exhibiting a collection of curiosities, objects from every corner of the globe are brought together. Here, you can learn all about Antwerp’s illustrious past, for until the middle of the seventeenth century the city led the way in the production and distribution of art and luxury goods. Silverware, jewellery, precious stones and exotic curiosities like coconuts, shells and coral were highly sought-after. Each object has a story to tell, and so do its collectors.
In the next room you’ll learn how all these beautiful objects were made.
In the Atelier the art of diamond-cutting and silversmithing is demonstrated in the middle of a timeless atelier. Take a seat at a workbench and select the information that interests you most.
The International Trading Room
Here you enter the world of international diamond trading. A multimedia globe makes it instantly clear why Antwerp was and still is the diamond centre of the world.
Projected trade routes illustrate how diamonds have made their way to Antwerp for 550 years. Screens and short films provide a wealth of additional information.
The Dining Room
In the Dining Room you can take a seat at a surrealist arrangement of tables, decked with costly silver services worthy of the grandest of banquets.
You’ll overhear tantalizing snippets of conversation. A central spoken narrative conjures up an atmosphere of decadence. The rules of etiquette and stories about some of Antwerp’s aristocratic families shed light on the use of silver and the different lifestyles of rich and poor.
Tests, which you can carry out yourself, film excerpts and animated films provide insight into diamond crime and what is being done to tackle the problem.
You leave DIVA in style…. through DIVA’s jewellery boudoir where you can find the most precious treasures.
Photos (C) DIVA Museum Antwerp