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Investing in diamonds: a new diamond museum opens its doors in December

  • The new diamond museum in Antwerp, DIVA, opens its doors in December 2017.
  • The first interactive images of the museum are now available

In December 2017 the new diamond museum in Antwerp, DIVA, will open its doors. The museum is located behind the city hall, near the former Ethnographic Museum at the Suikerrui. It will be a combination of the old diamond museum and the defunct silver museum in Deurne. With a life-size vault, a cosy setting and an emphasis on ‘experience’, the diamond museum aims to welcome 200,000 visitors a year.

 

Tourist attraction

The museum will tell the tale of a diamond, from its genesis millions of years ago to it “being around your finger”, as the Antwerp council member of Diamond, Ludo van Campenhout, describes it. With a life-size vault, a cosy setting and an emphasis on ‘experience’, the diamond museum aims to welcome 200,000 visitors a year. The City of Antwerp also hopes that at least 60.000 visitors will stay the night, thus generating more income for the city.

The province, the city and the Flemish government have invested in the diamond museum, together accounting for a minimum of 13 million euros. Flemish minister of Tourism, Ben Weyts, compares the project with investing in Flemish culinary traditions. “We did not invent eating or drinking, but Flanders is known for its culinary qualities. It is the same with diamonds. Rough diamonds may not have been mined here, but we turn them into breath-taking gems.”

Interactive experience

Frank Van Laecke and Gert Voorjans are responsible for the narrative and the design of the museum. “A visit to the museum will be an experience. People who leave will have been educated on the crucial role of Antwerp in the diamond trade and will hopefully revisit us in the future”, says interior designer Gert Voortjans. “DIVA requires a certain silence and serenity and that is why I have opted for a cosy setting. By getting rid of cold showcases and instead introducing couches and sofas, we have created a setting where people will want to return to”, the designer anticipates.

Director Frank Van Laecke has left his mark on several parts of the DIVA. He prioritises “relaxation”. “You can experience the museum in the way you choose. What you see, you can experience in two ways: one is highly substantive – with a detailed description of every object, the other with a hint of fiction – with a tale of what could have been.”

On the 24st of January, a tip of the veil was lifted. Press and public could wander around the museum under construction with the help of virtual reality glasses. The first room after the reception area – the Rooms of Wonders – will contain several trends. The eye-catcher will be the silver owl of Antwerp. The DIVA won’t be your typical old-fashioned with objects behind glass, but instead aims to offer a modern and dynamic experience, with “interaction” as a keyword. One of the main attractions is a life-size vault. Visitors can admire the museum’s most precious treasures there. Apart from the vault, other themes, such as trade, consumption and craftsmanship, are to be explored as well. Every theme will be explained and presented through staging, sound effects, multimedia techniques and interactive elements.   

“Thanks to the DIVA, there will again be an up to par attraction regarding diamonds and jewels in Antwerp, aimed at tourist and citizens alike. The museum will immerse you in luxe and in the craftsmanship of our cutters and designers throughout the ages”, says Luk Lemmens (N-VA), provincial deputy of Culture.

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