Early Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch is known for his nightmarish landscapes packed to the edges with impossible creatures and unnamed horrors. Located in a historic church, the Jheronimus Bosch Art Center lets visitors mingle with recreations of these beasts, exploring Bosch’s world via replicas of his art and workshop.
Located in Bosch’s hometown of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the center celebrating his life and work is located in what was once the lovely St. James Church, an ironic choice considering the artist’s obsession with the visceral nature of damnation. And lest anyone be lulled by the beautiful detail of his work, the center has installed “life-size” statues of some of his iconic demons right in the cavernous chapel. The remnants of the church, such as the astronomical clock and the intricate wooden podium, are now surrounded by armored fish ridden by peasants, bizarre flying creatures hanging in midair, and strange beasts placed down among the pews. The walls are also covered in tapestries and recreations of Bosch’s work.
The rest of the church continues to delve into Bosch’s legacy. In the basement of the church there is a recreation of the painter’s studio. The tall church tower now houses a glass elevator that carries visitors up through levels of gallery space featuring more prints of Bosch’s work as well as work that was inspired by his sinister creations.
While the center does not hold any of Bosch’s original works, it may be unrivaled in allowing people to truly inhabit his terrible visions of the afterlife.