Bells at the Library

The Library and Carillon of the University of Leuven
We left Antwerp early this morning and spent most of the day in the university town of Leuven. In August 1914, much of the town of Leuven was destroyed by fire as German retaliation. A major loss was the library of the university with 300,000 volumes destroyed, including 1500 rare books. An exhibit in the tower shows the extent of the damage. After the war, many countries donated books to rebuild the library. America donated the building building and the carillon.There are inscriptions on the piers and columns of the entrance porch listing the American colleges, universities and other schools who donated to the effort.The carillon is officially the "American Engineers' Memorial Carillon," having been donated by a number of American engineering societies.

We visited the M-Museum where the current major exhibit is "Ravage, Art and Culture in Times of Conflict." The exhibit shows art that documents, responds to or reflects the destruction of culture during conflicts throughout history. The destruction is still happening in the world and the exhibit underscores that.

We heard several brief concerts on the library and the carillon at St Peter Church near the city hall. One of the recitalists was Timothy Hurd, a native of Gates Mills who is now the National Carillonist of New Zealand where he plays the National War Memorial Carillon in Wellington.


The Leuven City Hall
The afternoon was a symposium, "The Broken Bells of Flanders." Many carillons were lost in Flanders during World War I. The world took note and there were many memorial carillons built during the 1920s. Loughborough,Toronto, Sydney, Capetown, Ottawa, Leuven, Wellington. There are new initiatives as well, Aarschot and Park Abbey in Leuven where an 18th century carillon will be reconstructed.

After an evening Mayor's reception at the 14th century city hall where we tried some of the local beer, we boarded our buses and made our way to Bruges.

Unfortunately we don't explore Bruges until Saturday. Tomorrow its off to Nieuwpoort, Ypes and the Flanders Field Museum.