Visitors to the luxurious city palace of the Lords of Gruuthuse receive a royal welcome. The large collection of historical objects gives the visitor an insight into the life of a rich family in Bruges between the 15th and 19th centuries. The main hall, with its magnificent tapestries, impressive fireplace, and richly decorated wooden beams, bears witness to the wealth of the Lords of Gruuthuse.
State archivist Felix d’Hoop set up the Société Archéologique (Archaeological Society) in 1865. The society collected art and archaeological objects that illustrated the rich past of Flanders and Bruges. In 1876 the City of Bruges acquired the Gruuthuse palace to store the society’s collection, following a thorough renovation by city architect Louis Delancanserie.
Lodewijk van Gruuthuse (1427-1492) was by far the most famous inhabitant of the Gruuthuse palace. He was a well respected man, a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece and a confidant of the Dukes of Burgundy. At the start of the 15th century the Gruuthuse family built their former storehouse into a luxurious mansion. Lodewijk later added a south wing with a chapel, through which a connection arose with the Church of Our Lady. The Spanish king Philip IV bought the building in 1596 and donated it to the Mount of Piety as a charitable pawnshop.
The Gruuthuse collection includes lace, goldware, furniture, ceramics, and objects for everyday use.