The museum's prime originality lies in its location, as its collections are housed in vaulted cellars dating from the 18th century. The visitor is thus taken back to the sole vestiges of the neo-classical buildings elected on plans by the architect Laurent-Benoît Dewez, which then served as the foundation when Orval was reconstructed in the beginning of the 20th century.
Museum of History, Iron and Steel Industry, Relgious Art
The collections of the Orval Museum were put together for an exhibition to commemorate the 900th anniversary (in 1970) of the arrival of the first monks in 1070. They feature three sections: architecture, the iron and steel industry, and monastic religious art.
- The architectural history of the Abbey is celebrated through several mock-ups, one of which reconstitutes the state of the monastery right before it was destroyed during the Revolution in 1793. At that time, there were two buildings next to each other: the old, medieval Abbey, and the new complex built by Laurent Benoît Dewez.
Stone remnants from various periods recount the various architectural styles from pre-Roman capitals to Baroque cherubs.
Typical Cistercian elements remain: tiles, wooden piping work, and above all, an acoustic pot, a rare peace found in one of the walls of the church's choir. It attests to the care that 12th century Cistercian monks took for the acoustics of their chants.
- The iron and steel industry section comprises a fine collection of fireplace cast iron plates made in Orval forges. There are also art ironwork pieces and various kitchen utensils, all in cast iron. This part of the museum is intentionally more educational, featuring the place of the blast furnace, ore samples, etc.
- The religious art section boasts the finest pieces from the art deco period, when monastic life resumed in Orval as of 1926. Some older items are also on display, in particular a splendid abbey crosier volute, a goldsmithing work by Friar Arman Robin, an 18th century monk.
A number of personalities emerge from the works on display: Friar Abraham Gilson and his 18th century paintings, Friar Antoine Perrin and his collection of clinical observations, and finally the figure of Dom Marie Albert Van der Cruyssen, the abbot who rebuilt Orval.
Next to the garden of medicinal plants, a building recreates the dispensary as it was in the 18th century, during the time of Friar Antoine Perrin, chemist. Orval was famous for its potions, especially its "eau d'arquebusade" or 'musket-shot water,' a vulnerary for gunshot wounds. The collection features a series of objects used for preparing medicines: crusher, tablet container, ornamented and figurative balance; but also for healthcare: leech syringe; plus a fine collection of earthenware for keeping herbs.
(entry to the ruins and to the monastery shop) :
- Winter (Nov.to Feb.) :10.30am - 5.30pm
- Mid-season : 9.30am - 6.00pm
- Summer (June to Sept) : 9.30am - 6.30pm
- Adults : € 6,00
- Reduction senior, student : € 5,00
- Groups (20 people or more) : € 4,50
- Groups senior, student : €4,00
- Children (7 to 14 yrs) : € 3,00
GUIDED TOURS duration 2 hours
During July and August, there are guided tours every afternoon. In September, there are guided tours on Sunday afternoons. Guided tours begin with the audiovisual presentation and last approximately one hour.
Times of visits :
- in French : 1.40pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm,4.30pm et 5.30pm.
- in Dutch : 2pm, 3pm, 4pm et 5pm..
At times other than those of the guided visits, specific groups (more than 20 participants) may, on written application, obtain a guided visit, provided that a guide is available at the requested times. Applications made by telephone must be confirmed in writing.
Requests for further information and application for guided visits may be addressed to the Brother in charge of this department.