There is so much to discover in the world that we sometimes overlook the most familiar places. Take St Peter’s Church: it has been shining in the heart of the city for centuries, but many people from Leuven rarely take the time to visit it. You should do that sometime, especially now that it has been so beautifully restored. And take the kids with you, because with M’s brand-new family route, a visit to the church becomes an outing for the whole family.
What does a devil look like? How do you paint a sacrament? How do you depict the life of a saint? Hundreds of years ago, artists did not have photographs, films or selfies to express what they wanted to say. To tell stories, they could only use their imagination. And that’s exactly what makes medieval art so accessible to children, and to anyone with a lively imagination.
To help young and not-so-young visitors along the way, M developed a do-booklet that they can use to discover the church. There is a version for children from 4 to 6, and one for the curious aged 7 to 99. The booklet takes you past eight works of art in the church. For each work, the booklet offers information suitable for children, questions and assignments to work out together. Among other things, you’ll discover ‘The Last Supper’ by Dieric Bouts, this Flemish master’s absolute masterpiece. But the impressive tower model, the mysterious mausoleum of Henry I and the intimate chapel of Proud Margaret also have a place on the route.
Do you think eight stops are a bit much for one visit? Entrance to the church is free of charge, so feel free to come back any time. You pay 5 euros for the booklet, but you can bring it with you next time.
All well and good, but what do the visitors themselves think? Elke and her daughter Lena-Marie (9) explored the family route with the booklet (version 7 to 99 years old) in hand. Ladies, was it a success?
Elke: “I live in Leuven, so I had walked past the church many times. Yet it took a long time before I stepped inside. During the opening weekend I went to the preview, and I wanted to come back with Lena-Marie.”
Lena-Marie: “The booklet contains a lot of nice assignments. I thought the most fun was: What would you do if you got the key to the church? I thought: celebrate my birthday with a DJ, a dance floor and a disco ball. Because it’s my birthday in February, and then it’s too cold for a party outside.”
Elke: “I was pleasantly surprised by the creative development of the route. Children really need to use their imagination and think along with what-if scenarios. And in addition to that, some sleuthing and drawing: a lot of fun to do together.”
Lena-Marie: “We made a cartoon of Proud Margaret. I already knew about her from school, but now I know her a little better. When the fair is in Leuven, they open the box with her bones. People can go look at it then. I think that’s gross!”
Elke: “We did all eight stops at once. Because the course is so varied, it went really smoothly. I can recommend it to everyone.”
Lena-Marie: “We also had to draw ‘The Last Supper’. And there was also a dice game in the book, for at home.”
Elke: “I think it’s important to introduce my child to history and art at an early age. During the lockdown, for example, I was very happy with the art activity sheets: they are like leaflets with children’s assignments around a work from the M collection. You can download them on M’s website.”
“And now there’s the family route in St Peter’s Church. Sometimes you don’t have to go too far, do you? (laughs) We’ve made some great discoveries together, and we’ll definitely come back for the digital experience. Then you will get a tablet on which you can explore works with special effects and explanations. We’re already looking forward to that. And we’ll keep the do-booklet as a souvenir of a great day.”
Lena-Marie: “But we’re still going to play that dice game, right?”
There are two versions of the family route
The accompanying booklet costs 5 euros and is available in Dutch, French and English. It is available during opening hours at the reception desk in St Peter’s Church.