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exhibition old frisian churches

the fries museum celebrates the 50th anniversary of fryske tsjerken with an exhibition

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of Alde Fryske Tsjerken (‘Old Frisian Church’) Foundation, the Fries Museum will be presenting From the Print Room: a tour of the church from 20 December. The Alde Fryske Tsjerken Foundation maintains more than 50 Frisian churches, preserving them for future generations and ensuring that they will continue to be used as social anchor points in the future. The exhibition includes drawings, prints and old photographs of churches in Friesland and runs until 13 December 2020.

For centuries, the church functioned as the centre of the community. But times change and so do churches. The iconoclasm resulted in ruined interiors and churches disappeared or changed their denomination due to the Protestant Reformation. Nowadays secularisation is taking its toll. Over the years many Frisian churches were demolished, refurbished or replaced, events that artists were only too happy to portray.

immortalised by artists
In 1909 Piet van der Hem made a painting of the interior of the Ayttagodshuis near the church of Swichum before it was condemned and demolished three days later. Viglius van Aytta founded this guesthouse in 1572. Poor, elderly people were allowed to live there free of charge in exchange for helping out in the church. The exhibition also includes drawings by Albert Martin of the bronze bells in the church tower in Bears, with inscriptions indicating that the bells were cast to commemorate two marriages within the noble Unia family. There is also a 17th-century pinewood pew from the church in Hegebeintum.

the alde fryske tsjerken foundation
The churches in Bears, Swichum and Hegebeintum are all owned by the Alde Fryske Tsjerken Foundation. In total the Foundation maintains 52 churches, 7 cemeteries and 2 belfries. The foundation’s 50-year anniversary will be celebrated with numerous activities, starting with the presentation in the Fries Museum.

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