DIVA MUSEUM FOR DIAMONDS, JEWELRY, AND SILVER EXPLAINS ITS MISSION TO PRESERVE AND PROMOTE ANTWERP'S MOST IMPORTANT INDUSTRY AND CULTURAL HERITAGE.
By Christoph Ziegler
DIVA's Vault. Photo: Federik Beyens.
For almost six centuries, the Belgian port city of Antwerp has been the diamond capital, with an unmatched competitive edge in expertise and craftsmanship. Today more than 86 per cent of the world's rough diamonds pass through its diamond district. Indeed, Antwerp is the only city in the world with a dedicated Alderman for diamonds who coordinates all initiatives of the local diamond sector.
Eva Olde Monnikhof, director at DIVA: The main collection of the DIVA, museum for diamonds, jewellery and silver, is dedicated to the Belgian diamond, jewelry, and silver industries, spanning the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to contemporary times. The museum pursues its cultural heritage mission of educating the public on these crafts with a four-pronged program encompassing its collections and library and outreach activities involving exhibitions and education. The aim is to inform the public on the importance, history, and beauty of diamonds, jewelry, and silver. A residency program offers up-and-coming designers the opportunity to learn, experiment, and connect with specialists and the public. DIVA is funded by subsidies, sponsors, and donors, in addition to ticket revenues, and event room rentals.
SMCK Magazine asked DIVA staff to guide readers on a tour through the museum's concept and the team's vision for the future.
The DIVA Dining Room. Photo: Frederik Beyens.
ONE CAN LEARN AND MARVEL AT THE SAME TIME
Being a museum dedicated to diamonds, jewelry, and silver we have to be connected with the industry and the public. The Antwerp World Diamond Centre is a valued partner and so are the Antwerp's Most Brilliant jewelers.
At DIVA you are able to follow the route of the rough diamonds and precious metals starting with their origins and characteristics, via the certification process, the trade all the way to the makers, and eventually to the wearers.
We have, according to specialists, the best collection of Flemish diamond jewelry and silver in the world. We hope that anyone who visits us will understand how big the role of Antwerp and Flanders was and is in those industries. And we still collect. To remain relevant, not only now but also in the future, we follow contemporary designers and acquire their work.
"Slangenjuweel". Photo: Frederik Beyens.
To spot talent early on and connect it with DIVA, we collaborate with the academies and schools, and have our own international residency program. We have our own fully functioning gold and silversmith atelier where we not only let talented craftsmen and designers work, but also provide workshops for specialists, 'talents,' and people who have never tried to make a jewel or a silver object.
We organize exhibitions that include or focus on contemporary work. Good examples are our pop-up at the Grote Markt or our exhibition with Wallace Chan last year. Another example: in our library, we do presentations, but also organize events for students to provide them with inspiration and knowledge for their own designs.
We tell our stories in different rooms, varying from a trading room, an atelier, a Wunderkammer, a vault, and more. The idea is that you follow the journey that diamonds and precious metals make from mine to ring – as they sometimes call it.
Being a relatively young museum – the museum just turned four – touch screens and digital tools are integrated into our permanent presentation and if it has added value: our temporary exhibitions. Particularly films on how things are made are much appreciated by our visitors.
But the real thing, the demonstrations that we sometimes organize in our own atelier, will always win. Seeing a craftsman or craftswoman work is magical.
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