The Bokrijk collection

The ‘bread’ theme will be interpreted in the Meeuwen estate houses. A building that has been in Bokrijk since 1700, and its baking house has been used as the museum bakery for many years now. With BKRK we go that essential step further. The Antwerp-based research agency, Geheugen Collectief, carried out a comprehensive historical research study into the Meeuwen house, and the baking techniques of old. More in-depth information is revealed via the FARO heritage app.

Katrien Vandermarliere compiled an exhibition in the residential home based on a short film about the economic impact of the bread (industry) and the social relevance thereof to the various communities. Bob Takes’ art exhibit further examines the countless traditions and rituals that bread universally evokes. Architect Christian Kieckens’ expertise was called upon for the scenography. The baking house houses some of the permanent collection, and when events are organised the oven is deployed to demonstrate bread baking. The faggots are in place to stoke up the oven.

The Bokrijk collection underpins the museum lay-out in the residential home and in the Meeuwen Kilbers Farm baking house. A collection of artisan tools is compiled together with audio-visual presentations about the significance of bread (economic, social, religious…) …. yesterday, today and tomorrow.

An early presentation in the residential house exhibits ‘artisinal baking tools from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’.  

Biscuit moulds

Spiced biscuit mould. The figure represents a man in eighteenth century traditional costume. The dough was placed in the mould, pressed in using a rolling pin, and then cut.

Waffle irons

In the Low Countries the waffle iron was usually rectangular in shape as opposed to the circular shape popular in Scandinavia (and also for instance in Austria and Switzerland). Baking waffles was a typically female task. The dough was made some while prior to baking, using buckwheat flour, sugar or honey, aniseed, and fat or butter. It was mixed using a wooden spoon until it reached the desired consistency, but it had to remain liquid. The waffle iron also had a small iron support or tripod to facilitate turning it on top of the fire.

In most instances the waffle irons were made by a blacksmith. Right up until the start of the twentieth century waffle irons mostly used tongs still. The old waffle irons fell by the wayside with the emergence of their electric counterpart.

Bread knife

This is a typical example of a so-called ‘West Flemish broodpikke or broodpekke’, where the knife and the hook have merged into a single implement.   However, this isn’t the case with the Kempen variant which has a separate bread hook with a groove to hold the breadknife.

First a cross was made using the point of the bread knife on the underside of the bread.  Then the bread was held against the chest, and the bread was cut in the direction of the body.