Guided Tours
of the Royal Manufacturers De Wit

The Royal Manufacturers De Wit owns one of the most prestigious private collections of tapestries in the world.

They are established in a unique setting: the 15th century refuge house in Mechelen of the Abbey of Tongerlo.

The Manufacturers can be visited with a qualified guide, who will provide you with various information in reference to the historical building, the collection of ancient and modern tapestries, the cleaning process and the conservation methods. The visitor will also attend a weaving demonstration.

At specified times, your tour may also include a visit of the workshop. The tour lasts approximately one hour and a half.

We regret that our premises are not accessible to physically impaired persons.

Individual visitors:

  • Each Saturday at 10.30 a.m.
  • No reservation is needed. The guide will meet you in the garden.
  • Admission fee is 8 € per visitor (children up to 12 years are free, 12-18 years: 4 €)
  • Only small parties of up to 6 people are allowed to join the group visit           
  • Maximum TWO languages are simultaneously possible. Visits will be held either in Dutch/French, Dutch/English or English/German. According to the language knowledge of the guide and the visitors it might also be possible that the visit will be conducted in Dutch, combined with French, English, German, Spanish or Italian.

Groups:

  • Visits are only possible on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 9 AM and 3.30 PM.
    On Thursdays and Fridays, if your visit starts between 11 and 12 AM or at 3.30 PM, a visit of the workshop is possible. On Saturday the visit of the workshop is always included.
  • Mandatory reservation, preferably by email visit.dewit@telenet.be, alternatively try + 32 (0)475 52 29 05 at least two weeks in advance. (Monday till Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.).
  • Admission fee is 150 € for a group of 20 visitors maximum, qualified guide included. If the group number exceeds 20 visitors - with a maximum of 22 visitors - we will charge an extra fee of 10 € / person.           
  • THREE groups maximum simultaneously
  • Guided tours can be requested in Dutch, French, English, German, Spanish or Italian.
  • IMPORTANT NOTICE: All changes made to teh terms of a contract for a guided tour, or cancellation of a group will generate an administrative fee of 10 €. Cancellations made within the month (30 calendar days) prior to your visit will be charged and invoiced at 50% of teh total costs. Cancellations made within the week (7 calendar days) prior to your visit will  be charged at 100%.

A possibility is offered to organize evening visits (nocturne) as from 7:00 p.m. for a group of 20 visitors maximum, admission fee is 230 €.

The Manufactures are closed on public holidays, between the Holidays of December 25th and January 1st and during the full month of July.

For further information, please contact us preferably by email visit.dewit@telenet.be , or call + 32 (0)475 52 29 05 (Monday till Friday 10 AM – 6 PM)

A virtual tour of the Manufacture Royale De Wit

Garden

Les salles d'exposition de tapisseries anciennes

Workshops

Technical rooms

HISTORY OF THE MANUFACTURE ROYALE DE WIT

1 History of research and technical innovation at the Royal Manufacturers De Wit

Whether in the field of cleaning (by aerosol suction), conservation (conservation-integration technique), lining (on a specially designed table), hanging (multi-pulley suspension system), storage (system of galvanised steel tubes), the Royal Manufacturers De Wit is considered in many countries as the private laboratory which, these last 25 years, has most contributed to the progress of tapestry conservation techniques.

The Royal Manufacturers De Wit stays constantly at the cutting edge of research, offering its customers state-of-the-art technology which is highly recommended by the opinion leaders in the field.

1980 New conservation methods

-As early as 1980, the Royal Manufacturers De Wit was the first large private laboratory to use modern conservation techniques, renouncing the traditional "stitching techniques" commonly used at the time in all the other private workshops. These new techniques are based on using less intrusive and lighter methods, focusing on conservation (see list of publications: Gruuthuse Museum, Bruges, 1982).

From 1985, these new original techniques were used for the treatment of tapestries for the Monuments Historiques de France. In 1987, one of those restorations would be published by "The Getty Conservation Institute" in collaboration with the IRPA (Royal Institute for Art Heritage), Brussels (see list of publications).

1987 New lining system

- In 1987, the Royal Manufacturers De Wit perfected its new lining system on a table specially designed for that operation. This system considerably improved the harmlessness, the precision and the efficiency of the work of fastening the tapestry on its lining.

This lining system is nowadays also used by German laboratories, among which, for example, the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich. This system has also been deliberately selected for the lining treatment of some of the most prestigious sets in the world (including, for example, "The Story of David and Bathsheba" at the National Museum of the Renaissance in Ecouen castle).

1990 Conservation-integration system

- Since 1990, the Royal Manufacturers De Wit has improved its "conservation-integration" system, applying it to some of the most prestigious tapestries in the world ("Panos d'Oro" and "Los Honores" from the Patrimonio Nacional of Spain). In 1993, this system would be published in "Golden Weavings" and in 2000 in "Los Honores, tapestries woven for Charles V" (see list of publications).

1990-1995 New separate rooms for each specific treatment

From the early nineties, the Royal Manufacturers De Wit was the first laboratory to implement a policy of separate rooms specifically designed for each stage of the tapestry conservation process. This laboratory would be the first one having its own quarantine area for the treatment of dirty tapestries. The laboratory has also its own security room with aluminium tubes, a dark room and lastly a decontamination space.

1991 New system of cleaning with aerosol suction

In 1991, Yvan Maes De Wit registered a patent for a process of "cleaning of textiles by aerosol suction". This system would be very successful internationally and was very soon to become the only approved cleaning method in countries like Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and the Scandinavian countries, countries often considered as being at the cutting edge of textile conservation. This system would also be very successful in France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States, where the largest collections entrusted their most valuable pieces to the Royal Manufacturers De Wit, generally without asking for competitive quotations (see list of references).

2005 New original hanging and raising system

- In 2005, Yvan Maes De Wit patented an original system for hanging and raising textiles. This system uses a specially designed batten with integrated pulleys and a security. This new system would be selected for the hanging of the most important series of tapestries (woven after 1400) conserved in France, the set of 10 tapestries of the "Story of David and Bathsheba" from the National Museum of the Renaissance at Ecouen Castle and a large number of other tapestries in Europe.

2005 New original process for the storage of textiles on galvanised steel tubes

- In 2005, Yvan Maes De Wit patented an original textile storage process using tubes made of galvanized steel wrapped in a sheath of polyethylene foam for the storage of textiles. This system was selected, with the agreement of the Laboratoire de Recherche des Monuments Historiques de France, for the reserve of Chambord castle and the reserve of the Angers castle two of the largest storage rooms for tapestries in France.