I'm traveling to Bruges next month and considering a day trip to Ghent. I see that the altarpiece is being restored. Does anyone know which panels are currently on view (or will be in August)? Are visitors able to get close to the remaining panels? Thanks for any info.
In the cathedral is a time schedule of the restoration, close to the entrance of the Villa chapel where the Alterpiece is usually on display.
In the Museum of Fine Arts you can see the restorers at work behind glass. I visited the museum last May and all the backpanels + Adam and Eva are currently there and according my latest information till coming October. I did not visit the chapel as I have seen the Alterpiece several times, but you can be sure that the most spectacular part, the frontpanels will be still there in August.
The museum is closed on Mondays, but doubt if the restorers work also during weekends, something to be aware off.
More info / English: www.mskgent.be
This isn't an exact answer, but I think they restore one panel at a time. When I saw it several years ago, it was one of the back panels. You can still get close to the remainder of the Altarpeice, though. I'm not too literate in what makes a painting great or not, but even I was hit by the power of this work. So, if a Philistine like me was impressed, I would go to see it no matter which panel is missing.
BTW, get there early. I arrived soon after the doors opened and walked right in. The small rooom where they display the piece started to fill up as I left. I strolled by the church again by mid-morning and the queue spilled out the door. And this was before RS added Gent to his book, I can only imagine how much of a crush of visitors his loyal readers have now contributed.
I was there a month ago and, like Tom, I was there shortly after opening time and got right in. I believe two of the back panels were replaced with black & white photos of what should be there, the rest was there in all its glory, amazing!
It’s possible that a few years ago they started with one panel at the beginning stage of the restoration proces, but now it’s to the full swing. An international team of specialists are doing this painstaking job and I saw last May five of them simultaneous at work, the other panels where placed on easels waiting for restoration and the whole proces is certainly worth to see.
I have visited today the Altarpiece and still all the backpanels and Adam + Eve are in the Museum of Fine Arts for restoration. Adam (upper left) and Eve (upper right) are frontpanels and currently in the cathedrals Villa chapel replaced by two black & white photos, that’s likely I think what you saw a month ago Nancy. You can walk around to the backside of the Altarpiece and then, placed on the wings usually view the backpanels, but are as said before currently in the museum and now replaced by black & white photos.
According the man of the ticket booth this situation remains longer despite of what the planning near the entrance of the chapel shows. It’s nothing unusual as during restorations many hidden problems will be discovered and so it will take longer to complete this kind of complex jobs, so also being the case now with the Altarpiece. See the planning more as an indication/estimation as quality has ofcourse here priority above time.
In short: What currently can be seen in the cathedral is still the most spectacular part of the Altarpiece, being all the frontpanels, but without the panels of Adam and Eve. The latter two are together with all the backpanels replaced by black & white photos. According the man of the ticket booth this situation remains certainly till October this year, but will remain longer as the restoration of the backpanels need more time.
Hopefully this makes everything clear and you will enjoy anyway the Altarpiece as much as others do.