Utopia in Belgium


The historical museum dedicated to the Plantin-Moretus family of printers in Antwerp will shortly be exhibiting a unique map of Utopia. Thanks to the King Baudouin Foundation, it has received the valuable artefact on long-term loan.

The Plantin-Moretus museum will soon be exhibiting a special object: a centuries-old map of Utopia. This was the fictive, ideal world of lawyer, philosopher and humanist Thomas More, which he described in his book of the same name, published in 1516. In 1595-96, the Brabant cartographer and geographer Abraham Ortelius produced a visual representation of More's paradise. Of the twelve copies printed by Ortelius, this is the last surviving version.

The map was recently offered for sale by a private collector. The King Baudouin Foundation made a successful €175,000 bid for the work. The foundation is now loaning its acquisition to the Plantin-Moretus museum in Antwerp. It will be exhibited there from early November onwards, in a prominent spot.

The map - measuring 38 by 47.5 centimetres - was already presented to the general public in 2016. It was on display at the Museum M in Leuven as part of the In Search of Utopia exhibition.