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An historian's view on life, leisure and less waste

Category: Museum

Religious mysteries (and a hint of surrealism) in Belgium: the relics of the Blessed Idesbald

Engraving of the Blessed Idesbald

Good Blessed Idesbald, patron saint of fishermen, sailors and the Flemish coast

Consternation in the newspapers and a mayor speaking on national radio about the relics of a long dead saint: no, this is not the plot of a new Dan Brown mystery novel. This is something actually happening in Belgium right now.

So, what is this about? In the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Potterie church in Bruges the lead coffin of the locally venerated Blessed Idesbald was opened and scientifically examined. It was more or less expected to find the relics of this 12th century abbot of the Cistercian abbey of Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-ter-Duinen in Koksijde inside it. The thing is, research has now shown that these remains actually belong to somebody who died roughly between 1470 and 1623. Conclusion? These are not the relics of the Blessed Idesbald!

The scandal! The mockery as well, as a gloating mayor of Koksijde proudly announced on the radio that in Bruges, they had been worshipping the ‘wrong’ relics for centuries. Did I spot some old rivalry between the cities of Koksijde and Bruges? Could it be that it had long been a frustration of the good people of Koksijde that ‘their’ saint (actually Idesbald was only beatified, not canonized) was buried amid these arrogant folks from Bruges?

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10 tips for visiting museums with children: part 2

I’m going to dive right into this, and continue with the next 5 tips!


  1. Take some toys with you


I’m probably stating the obvious when I say: never leave the house without a toy, a book or whatever else that makes your child happy. I could personally live in a museum, but every now and then everyone just needs to play.

If your child has a favourite doll or teddy bear, why not play a new game: “toy museum guide” 😉 Ask your son or daughter what Teddy, Barbie (or whatever) would like to see and suggest it explains things for it. It’s basically role playing, and I don’t know a lot of kids that don’t like role playing!

When you’ve finished visiting the museum, you can ask your child how Teddy felt about the visit. It’s an indirect, and probably easier, way for your offspring to communicate if it actually appreciated the visit. I’m not saying you will necessarily appreciate the answer 😉

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10 tips for visiting museums with children: part 1

A lot of people comment on the fact that we take our daughter everywhere we go. She quickly turned into a mini-me-globetrotter, since we always felt there is just no truth in the idea that children don’t enjoy travelling.

The thing is, we never took it for granted that she was with us. We knew (and are still frequently reminded) that a child is not going to spend 4 hours in a museum unless it has something to do there as well. And then again, sometimes, despite all your preparations, things can still go terribly wrong. Right in front of Michelangelo’s David, your child might decide it’s had enough.

And that’s OK. “Never expect too much” has more or less become my motto over the years. Because every time I really did cherish unrealistic expectations, a museum visit quickly turned into a hellish nonsensical discussion with hysterical offspring.

Still, there are a few things I believe you can do to make the experience easier, more fun, and especially more relaxing.

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