Guided Tours
of the Royal Manufacturers De Wit

The Royal Manufacturers De Wit is active in cleaning and conserving tapestries, mostly from international collections.  They also buy and sell antique tapestries.


They are established in a unique setting: the late 15th century refuge house of the Abbey of Tongerlo in the city of Mechelen where they show
their prestigious private collections of tapestries.
The Manufacturers can be visited with a qualified guide, specialised in tapestries. You will be introduced to the fascinating world of the art of weaving: its history, techniques, weaving demonstration, conservation process, …. The historical building and garden will also be highlighted.
At specific times, when the conservation team is not at work, your tour will also include a visit to the workshop.
The tour lasts approximately 1,5 hour.

Individual visitors:
·Each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (not in July, between Christmas and New Year and on official holidays)
·Maximum 6 persons / family will be accepted.
·Reservation is not possible. The guide will meet you in the garden.
Languages: max. 2 languages simultaneously according to the language knowledge of the guide and the visitors: Dutch in combination with French, English, German, Spanish or Italian.  

Admission fee:  Adults: 8 € Youth between 12-18 years: € 4 Children up to 12 years: free

Groups:
·On Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 9 a.m. and 3.30 p.m.. (not in July, between Christmas and New Year, and on official holidays).
·Mandatory reservation at least three weeks in advance only by email visit.dewit@telenet.be
·Visit to the workshop on Saturday, always included, on Thursday and Friday, if your visit starts between 11 and 12 a.m. or after 3.30 p.m.

Maximum 3 groups simultaneously Languages: Dutch, French, English, German, Spanish or Italian

Admission fee: group of 20 visitors max.: 150 €
      

for a nocturne: group of 20 visitors max. 230 €

Changements / cancellations:
oAll changes made to the terms and conditions of a contract, or cancelation of a group: 10 €
oIf cancellation made within 30 calendar days prior to your visit: 50% of visit costs
oIf cancellation made within 7 calendar days prior to your visit : 100% of visit costs
oEvery cancellation or changement has to be announced by phone and email.
  For further information:
www.dewit.be or visit.dewit@telenet.be

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.