Cultural disaster exercise at Ghent museum

2020 is a big year for the Ghent Fine Arts Museum, the MSK.  It’s the Van Eyck Year and the MSK is hosting a major exhibition.  250,000 visitors are expected in only three months.  In order to gauge if the museum will be able to cope on top days the MSK is carrying out a kind of stress test next week.

On 1 February 2020 the largest Van Eyck exhibition ever will open at the MSK.  The exhibition is devoted to the Flemish primitive par excellence, the world famous medieval painter Jan Van Eyck. The exhibition is one of a number of events that will be staged in Ghent all next year.

To gauge whether the MSK can cope with the flood of visitors expected, a cultural disaster exercise is being staged next week.  The museum wants to make sure it’s not taking any risks. 400 volunteers will visit a mock-up of the exhibition next week.

“We are staging a test day next week.  The exhibition has been set out as it will be next year, but with replicas” explains the MSK’s Johan De Smet.  Volunteers will visit the rooms accompanied by a guide.  Volunteers will follow the entire route as it will be next year: from the entrance via the ticket office through all the exhibition rooms. In this way we can get an idea of any problems that could emerge.”

The flow of visitors, access to the loos and other rooms, the mix of young and old as well as security will all be scrutinised.  The museum will also check acoustics.

Test groups will be given access in groups of fifty.  The exercise will also be a challenge for museum staff, who have the job of ensuring everything goes smoothly. Double the number of staff will be needed next year with the MSK recruiting 40 temporary staff.

35,000 visits have already been booked for next year and some times are already quite full, but tickets are still available.