BRUSSELS (AP) — The Antwerp Royal Museum of Fine Arts has put those big, bold Baroque works of its famous son Peter Paul Rubens into hiding — if only for a renovation.
Just as the famous Amsterdam Rijksmuseum in neighboring Netherlands has returned "The Night Watch" of its most famous painter, Rembrandt van Rijn, back in the main building after a ten-year renovation, Antwerp is hiding five oversized Rubens paintings in a special depot to protect them against the rough and tumble of four more years of works.
The art includes the massive "Baptism of Christ," which measures 4.11 by 6.75 meters (13.5 by 22.1 feet) and weighs 560 kilograms (1,235 pounds). The 19th century museum has a long narrow slot in a central showroom to lower paintings onto the ground floor in case of war or emergency.
To start the renovation, the museum first created a fully climate-controlled and shock-free interior warehouse where once a nuclear bomb shelter was. Now that the most precious and fragile works have been placed there, the renovation on the actual museum can start and will last through 2017.
The depot has 1,292 works in storage, also including four oversized paintings by Anthony van Dyck, another Flemish 17th century master.
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