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De magische Nottebohmzaal van de Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience

The Nottebohm Room is open to individual visitors from June 15 until September 15, 2024

The Nottebohm Room is a hidden gem. This prestigious library space shines in all its facets. You can also discover the magic of this unique place in the heart of Antwerp on your own. In August, you can admire a rare masterpiece there: the only copy of the 16th-century "Antwerps Liedboek".

Hidden gem

The Nottebohm Room is the hidden gem of the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library. During the summer months, you can explore the Nottebohm Room on your own and enjoy its unique atmosphere. It is a rare opportunity to take a peek into this atmospheric space, which is normally only open to the public during special events and tours. As soon as you step into the hall, the floor creaks gently under your feet and you can smell the scent of the 150,000 old books. A breathing silence overwhelms you as you leave the hustle and bustle of downtown Antwerp behind.

Globes in de Nottebohmzaal Boeken in de Nottebohmzaal

Audio guide

Who is the Nottebohm Room named after? What did the reading room look like a hundred years ago? What masterpieces are kept here? And why is the room so dark? Visitors to the Nottebohm Room often have many questions. A brand new audio guide – available in five languages – answers these and many other questions. The audio clips take visitors from the first page in the library's history to how the heritage library operates today.

Trap in de Nottebohmzaal Nottebohmzaal

Old and New "Antwerps Liedboek"

During the month of August, visitors can view two special books in the Nottebohm Room. The 16th-century "Antwerps Liedboek" will be on display next to the "Nieuw Antwerps Liedboek". The songbook was printed in 1544 by the Antwerp printer Jan Roulans. It soon became extremely popular. In fact, the publication was so popular that in a short time it had as many as four reprints. But two years later – in June 1546 – the book already ended up on the index of forbidden books. Today only one copy of the third edition still exists. That copy is kept in the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. This summer, that edition will exceptionally travel to Antwerp. The Heritage Library Hendrik Conscience offers visitors the unique opportunity to admire this masterpiece in the Nottebohm Room.

What would the "Antwerps Liedboek" look like in the 21st century? That question inspired Leonore Spee and Sascha Bornkamp to create a "Nieuw Antwerps Liedboek" (New Antwerp Songbook). They started from the original songs and, together with contemporary artists, children, students, mothers and daughters, set to work with this musical heritage. Thus forty new songs and lyrics were created. Some of these are very close to the original, others have become almost unrecognizable. The works of the "Nieuw Antwerps Liedboek" have been compiled in a handwritten publication that will lie alongside its five-hundred-year-old example. The recorded musical numbers and texts will also be available to listen to.

Beeld Hendrik Conscience in de Nottebohmzaal Nottebohmzaal

Practical info for individual visits

  • Nottebohm Room, entrance via Hendrik Conscienceplein 4, 2000 Antwerp
  • To be visited from June 15 to September 15, 2024
  • From Tuesday to Sunday, each time from 1 to 5 p.m. – last admission at 4:30 p.m.
  • Standard ticket € 8
  • Audio tour available in 5 languages: Dutch, French, German, English and Spanish

Practical info for group visits

  • Groups book a guided tour at Experience Antwerp.
  • Every weekday, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • A guided tour takes about 1.5 hours.
  • Our guide will wait for you at the Heritage Library desk, Hendrik Conscienceplein 4, 2000 Antwerp, fifteen minutes before the start.
  • For groups of up to 20 people. 
  • Rate: 120 euro (administration fee included)

© Erfgoedbibliotheek Hendrik Conscience, photos LUCID