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Museum Plantin-Moretus

Museum Plantin-Moretus

Walk into the printing office and house of the Plantin-Moretus family as if you were a friend of theirs who was visiting them 400 years ago. Discover the magic of the Museum Plantin-Moretus: in the mansion and printing press; in the rooms and the studio; in letters and typography; in beautiful books. Experience how, long before our digital age, words and images were spread around the world.

The Museum Plantin-Moretus presents three hundred years of book printing, art and family history. You can admire the oldest printing presses in the world and a rich collection of art, including portraits by Rubens. In the library you will find manuscripts, incunabula and original prints. And the archives also tell you about daily life in both the printing works and the mansion.

Who on earth was Plantin?
Christopher Plantin was an intellectual with a flair for business. Shortly before 1550, he moved from France to Antwerp. Five years later he started his own printing press, which he built into the largest in the world. Plantin was the progenitor of nine generations who would go on to live and work in the Officina Plantiniana.

Jan Moerentorf worked his way up from bookshop assistant to Plantin’s right-hand man. In 1570, he married Plantin’s second daughter, Martina. He latinised his name to ‘Moretus’. After Plantin’s death in 1589, he ran the Officina Plantiniana until 1610.

The Moretus family cherished their printing works, which had become a part of Antwerp’s heritage. The last owner, Edward Moretus, sold the house to the city of Antwerp in 1876. Following renovation work, the Museum Plantin-Moretus opened to the public on 19 August 1877.

The Museum Plantin-Moretus today: more alive than ever
Fancy an unusual adventure? Discover the amazing story of the publisher Christopher Plantin and his in-laws, the Moretus family. Inhale the scents of wood, leather, ink and wisdom. Enjoy the stillness of the courtyard garden, the creaking of the wooden floors and the industriousness at one of the oldest printing presses in the world.

You can experience film interventions, soundscapes and a space where you can set to work yourself: the house, the printer’s workshop and the Plantin-Moretus family will come to life even more fully than was the case in the past. Young and old, type freaks and bookworms alike will all enjoy the guided tours, exhibitions and workshops.

5 reasons why this is worth your visit

  • Where time has stood still. Step inside the house and the printing works and walk straight into the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Enjoy the splendours of yesteryear. Gilded leather on the walls, portraits of Peter Paul Rubens, the courtyard and garden, the old bookshop, an impressive library, …
  • Unique printing equipment. The two oldest printing presses in the world, 90 original fonts and more than 20,000 lead letters – an impressive collection.
  • Books, books, books. Today, the collection contains an incredible 30,000 old books, illustrated manuscripts and other treasures of European printing.
  • UNESCO World Heritage. Museum Plantin-Moretus is the first museum in the world to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Activities and guided tours

School offers