The Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (MSK) revised the presentation of its permanent collection in the autumn of 2017. Ten years after the renovation of the museum building (2002-2007) and its reopening in 2007, we are taking a new, fresh look at our permanent collection. The emphasis is on nineteenth and twentieth-century art, which constitutes the core and the main strength of the museum’s collection. In the permanent galleries, visitors can explore a thematic display of two centuries of Western art, featuring unseen additions to the collection and new work created by three contemporary artists.

The rehanging of the collection of the MSK Ghent started in the autumn of 2015. Under the title “The Golden Age Revisited”, we rearranged the galleries with seventeenth-century art from the Netherlands. This year’s emphasis is on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which form the basis of the museum’s collection. The rehanging will be completed in October 2017, exactly ten years after the previous rehanging of the museum’s permanent collection.

The updated display is founded on a chronological tour of the museum, from neo-Classicism around 1800 to the heyday of Surrealism around 1950. Within this general framework, we will create new thematic galleries, as well as adding a multitude of new additions to the collection that will be on display for the first time.

Highlights – and crowd-pleasers – will be the new monographic galleries on James Ensor, Théo Van Rysselberghe and George Minne, and thematic galleries featuring portrait and landscape, the art of the Sint-Martens-Latem School and the Lys Region, Belgian and international Expressionism, abstract art from the Twenties, and Surrealism. The high-quality overview of Belgian and international art from this period has a modernity that is not yet too well known by the general public.

The museumit will also exhibit recent additions to the collection that have not yet been exhibited in the galleries, such as a work by the young Ford Madox Brown, a life-sized watercolour by Léon Spilliaert, an early plaster sculpture by Auguste Rodin, two abstract paintings by Pierre-Louis Flouquet and a striking painting by Jules Schmalzigaug. We will also exhibit an important series of bequests and donations from the collection of Jozef and Ferdinand De Blieck. They comprise about twenty paintings and sculptures by artists such as Emile Claus, Valerius De Saedeleer, George Minne, Albijn Van den Abeele and Gustave Van de Woestyne.

The MSK, from which the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art (S.M.A.K.) was created, has a long tradition of cooperation with contemporary artists. The reorganisation is a wonderful opportunity to integrate contemporary arts at various crossroads. The museum has invited three contemporary artists – Luc Tuymans, Patrick Van Caeckenbergh and Ria Verhaeghe – to engage in a dialogue with older art, and to intervene at various locations throughout the museum.