M just for you

Welcome in M

We have mapped out a safe route for you. You will have so much space that it will seem as though the art is there for you alone. The route runs along the collection presentations 'Take your Time', 'Moved', 'The Ten'‘Form first’ and 'The Seven Sacraments'.


Explanatory texts are provided below.


Enjoy M and share your experience with #mleuven.

Gallery 0.A

Take your Time

It might feel as if time stands still in a museum, but nothing could be further from the truth. Time is an essential element of every work of art. Some works of art tell us something about time itself, like the calendar dial and a vanitas still life, where time is explicitly or symbolically represented. Other works of art tell stories. A story unfolds within a given time, what is called ‘narrated time’. Sometimes the story is about a journey that lasted for weeks, sometimes it is about a fleeting moment. For centuries artists have been developing visual strategies to represent this time-related aspect in their work.


An artwork also has a given amount of time to tell its story: the ‘narrative time’. In films and video installations that time is the length of the projection. However, in other artworks, more ‘static’ objects like sculptures and paintings, narrative time appears to be absent. Here it is determined by the spectator, the time he or she takes to look. Sometimes we only cast a cursory glance, sometimes we look for a very long time. Research has revealed that the average time a museum visitor stands in front of a painting is 28.63 seconds, including the time for selfies.  


This presentation invites you to explore the aspect of time in art. Not only how artists have worked with time in their creations, but also to find out how long you yourself spend looking. We invite you to become aware of the time you need to look and also to take a close(r) look.

Galleries 0.B - 0.C


Have you ever walked for hours with your classmates behind a saint, a pair of wings attached to your back? Have you ever dressed Jesus, rocked him to sleep or laid him in his grave? Or offered up your best jewellery to a bleeding Host? Times change... Until relatively recently, religion played an important role in the daily life of most people in the Christian West. Life was lived on a much more limited geographic scale. Religious feast days and rituals dictated the calendar and brought communities together.


Since 2017 M Leuven’s rich and diverse collection has been changed around on a regular basis in themed presentations so as to tell even more stories. Many objects from the collection are religious in origin and derive from local churches and chapels.


This exhibition showcases religious art and heritage objects made to move literally and figuratively, from the cradle to the grave. Under the three broad themes of procession, pilgrimage and devotion, the presentation brings together unusual objects that used to play a role in religious rituals: dressed and moving images, the wardrobe and accessories of statues of saints, relics and their cult objects, the paraphernalia of processions, house altars, etc.

Often fragile, tactile, costly and artisanal in nature, each of these extraordinary objects induced an intense religious experience both publicly and behind closed doors and by their movement moved people spiritually.


The context and uses of many of the objects have been lost over time, and so the audio tour and labels help contextualize these now obsolete practices. Furthermore, the presentation opens with images of similar traditions, worldwide and contemporary.   

Gallery 0.D

The Ten

Every two years M parts with a gallery. The Ten is the result of a public experiment carried out this year: can members of the public create a new presentation for that gallery by playing a virtual game?


The game was played by ten guinea pigs keen to take part in a digital experiment with a real-life outcome. It required them to choose their ten favourite works of art from the M collection. Six digital sessions were held during which the guinea pigs familiarized themselves with thirty works of art, each from his or her own perspective. Those thirty works of art symbolize the diversity of the collection: a variety of mediums, subjects and periods. But what all the artworks have in common is a fascinating story.


The thread running through the game was looking at and experiencing art. Does a different perspective on an artwork influence your preference? And can you fall in love with a work digitally?


M has created a presentation that showcases the ten works of art the guinea pigs had the greatest connection with throughout the experiment. But as well as the selected works, you can also see the twenty that didn’t make it. Which would you have chosen?


With thanks to the ten guinea pigs:

Kristien Clerinx, Lila Maria de Coninck, Lotte Cools, Karen Hoegaerts, Sarah Lauwers, Ilias Mohout, Casper Van Cleemput, Danny Van De Velde, Katrien Vanhamel and Ellen Vermaete.


This project was realized with the support of Cera and M-LIFE and works of art from the Cera art collection.

Galleries O.I - O.H - O.G

Form first

How do you set about impressing distinguished guests? Centuries ago a collector would have done so by inviting you to admire his most precious objects and artefacts brought together in a sumptuous cabinet. On show in these nineteenth-century salons of Mayor Leopold Vander Kelen and his wife Maria Mertens are treasures from M’s collection of applied arts. Here we invite you to take a fresh look at utilitarian objects.


We put the spotlight on the function, materials and form of objects. How do you use a windmill cup? What is a samovar used for? Since when have we eaten with a fork? And what messages can you communicate with a fan?

No information about the material, the maker or the date is provided with these objects. Trust your eyes. What can you deduce by taking a good look at the form and the material of an object?

Sharpen your senses: look and discover more about the objects’ form, function and materials.


In the halls of this exhibition you can find reflective questions. Find them and let your imagination run wild.


With works from the Cera Collection.

Gallery 0.F

The Seven Sacraments

You may have heard of the Seven Sacraments: seven sacred acts in the Catholic faith, which according to Catholic theology were instituted by Christ himself. Symbolizing the most important transitional rituals in the life of believers, the sacraments strengthen man’s bond with God and with the religious community. These rituals are Baptism, Confirmation, Penance (Confession), Holy Communion or Eucharist, Ordination, Matrimony and Anointing of the Sick.   


These seven sacraments once structured daily life in Catholic Europe. You will be familiar with at least some of them. For example, there is a chance that you yourself have been christened and confirmed, or have attended a christening or confirmation service. Perhaps you have also been to mass, or you know people who regularly go to Communion. Other sacraments may be less familiar. Have you ever been to confession, for example? And do you know what anointing the sick entails?  For someone in the past the answers would have been obvious. 


Each sacrament is celebrated by a specific ritual or celebration, accompanied by the relevant liturgical objects. In this gallery you will discover a number of objets d’art from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, which were integral to the rituals and practices around the seven sacraments. The pièce de résistance has to be the Seven Sacraments Altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400 – 1464), a masterpiece of medieval art, which has been a guest of honour at M since 2009. Allow your eyes to wander over the painting and live the fifteenth-century, seven sacraments experience.