Today I’m sharing a little bit more about our last antique buying trip to Europe, since so many of you are enjoying my instagram photos and asking for some more blog posts!



One of the most interesting museums I’ve visited in Europe, is in the most southern part of The Netherlands, the province of Limburg.  We were enchanted by this small museum, featuring the collection of one avid collector.



It’s the only part of The Netherlands with rolling hills – the rest is flat.



And it’s g o r g e o u s!


For that reason alone it’s worth the visit.  All that peaceful country side, dotted with farms, and castles.  Sheep. Cattle. Chickens. Water. Boats.


It was so relaxing driving through the countryside there.  And the weather was unseasonably warm, so sunny too! A dream.




The Netherlands has so many beautiful museums. Over the years we have visited quite a few of the biggest museums there, this time we visited a super small and highly curated museum in the province of Limburg called Museum Vaals


I hope you enjoy visiting it with me.


Please know that no dis-respect is intended by showing you this museum.  I am a believer, and found these pieces to be just gorgeous. A love tribute.

When I posted some of these photos on Instagram, one follower wrote me a tart comment about “graven images” – that’s not my intention either. I’m sharing it as a museum Mr. FGH and I enjoyed going to, and I thought some of you might enjoy it as well, since it is so unusual.




Let’s begin by having lunch at The Black Madonna Cafe.  It’s on the grounds of the old monastery which is part of the museum.

So unusual, it’s filled with religious art that spans several centuries. The day was so gorgeous that we sat outside at the little bistro tables in the sun, but the inside is worth a peek!



The tables are surrounded by antique Dutch wooden prayer chairs from old churches.  They are so unique, with rush or wooden seats, the church goers in the last century used them as a chair, or turned them around to kneel on to pray, resting their hands on the back rest.


The museum itself is in the old chapel. This madonna has stood guard by its doors for a century.




The neo-gothic chapel was built in 1908.



This museum features the collection of one avid collector of the old plaster religious figures from churches in Holland, Belgium, France and neighboring countries. At last count there were over 200 saints and madonnas in the collection.



It was amazing to see the great care, skill and patience with which these figures were made. Long ago, each one was part of a cathedral or Catholic church.



The churches in Europe, just like in the states, “de-accessed” pieces no longer in use {meaning they sold them off} and you can find many religious antiques such as statues and other items for sale at antique galleries, by art dealers, and even at flea markets.





By gathering many of these old, old pieces, this museum has kept them in  a  place where everyone can enjoy them for the works of art they are. They are not meant to be “graven images” rather a reminder of faith, the faithful, and God’s goodness.



I hope you enjoyed visiting along with me.  Since religious antiques are some of the most avidly collected antiques our clients always want me to look for at FrenchGardenHouse, I thought this would be an interesting on line “field-trip” – I was able to purchase a few religious antiques on this trip {not at this museum, although I wished they would sell some of the smaller pieces they had-incredible!} that will be available on the shop site in the coming week.

And for all of you who have texted, called and emailed, I promise I am unpacking and adding the latest French, English and other European Antiques from this trip as quickly as I can!!  




à bientôt


If you want to romance your Home and Garden with antique and vintage treasures to make you smile each time you come home, visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.


  1. I find this fascinating Lidy! The countryside in your pictures looks bucolic, peaceful… and the saints and Madonnas so serene. I can imagine it being quite a restorative trip. I wish people would not give in to urges to say things intended to be disagreeable, as if they must leave their mark. Honestly, I would have thought that people who follow French Garden House would be capable of seeing the bigger picture! Enjoy every minute, and on my behalf too <3

  2. Michele

    Lidy, all of these photographs are absolutely stunning! Thank you. I, too, am a believer and I think what you have shown is a loving tribute to the beauty of this gorgeous museum, as well as the beautiful land surrounding it. Xo

  3. When I visit an old church or monastery I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the exquisite and art and statues of Madonnas and saints. I envision the artist so lovingly creating their work of art…with some it must bring tears to their eyes as it does ours. Thank you for sharing this piece of heaven on earth. I am so enjoying seeing your beautiful adventures through the Netherlands.

  4. I love the old, religious artworks, Lidy. Thank you for sharing these. You carry a nice assortment as well. I am drawn to religious finds when I see them. I feel closer to my parents and my upbringing when I see them, touch them.

  5. Dear Lidy, So lovely to see our country through the eyes of someone who lives outside Holland. Our country is stunning but we’re taking it all for granted. Limburg is one of the most amazing parts. It is great to see all your beautiful pics.
    The weather is still lovely, tempertures in the 70s and lots of sunshine.

  6. Hi Lidy, I am so sorry that some people do not understand antiquities. Religious art is a very important part of history I do not worship them but do honor them thinking how many times a person has looked at the relic and it has touched their heart and has given them feelings of peace and joy for a moment in time. It’s a reminder just like a beautiful piece of art hanging in our homes. Thank you again for taking me along.
    xoxo Jo

  7. Jo McCready

    Thank you for sharing. Just gorgeous figures. My grandfather carved these types of statues in Germany long ago, so I feel an emotional connection.

  8. Jean Ann Ferriso

    Religious art was often used to recall the stories in the Bible, as a way to inform those who could not read. Thank you foe sharing the beauty you experienced on your trip. There is so much beauty produced by human beings of all different beliefs. One does not have to be a believer to appreciate and be moved by the beauty of it all.

  9. Jan Schouw

    Lidy, thank you for sharing and bring a little bit more of Europe to us.

  10. Joann Beck

    Such beauty that is now ‘sold off’. When in Europe and visiting I feel sad that people no longer worship in the churches, but rather use them for just looking and selling things. This says so much about the state of our societies right now.

    1. Joan, most of the religious pieces that are sold currently in Europe are available because a Pope {I’m sorry, right now I can’t recall which one} ordered all the Catholic churches to sell their relics and figures that were in storage. This collector placed the ones he was able to obtain in this museum setting. I read some of the comments in the visitors books, and some of the parishioners from churches that sold certain statues were happy to see “their” saint or madonna there.

  11. Pamela

    Such an unusual item to collect. Things are different in Europe than here and if this is a fairly old collection well then the world was a very different place then. Talk about graven images, this person should try the catacombs in Rome. I was 15 years old and on a trip to Italy with my Latin class. Now THAT was quite something as a good cradle Lutheran 15 year old teenage girl. Can’t say we have many locations like this in Maryland. I wasn’t used to seeing things like this. In Europe they have museums for EVERYTHING. I was fortunate to see several beautiful ones in Amsterdam while in college. The Dutch definitely love their artists and their works. And as far as graven imagines, I wonder if this person would accuse the Pope of this? Anyone going through the Vatican museums would see countless examples of this. Many people haven’t a clue there is a massive art collection and museum in the Vatican. Since I’ve been there the Sistine Chapel ceiling, skillfully painted by Michelangelo has been cleaned and restored. I’m sure it would appear to be a completely different work of art than what I saw before.

  12. Jean Van

    Hi, Lidy,
    So enjoyed the photo’s and the country side, all the church’s and please keep on telling us your trip’s we all love reading and enjoying them so, I do for sure, you did get a lot of goodie’s. Happy Fall~~~~~~~~~and Happy weekend~~~~~~~Jean~~~~~~~~~~

  13. Sharon C Sheehy

    Cannot thank you enough for sharing these beautiful pictures with us, it really is so generous of you! Knowing that I may never be fortunate enough to visit such a gorgeous country, it is all the more special to see it through the eyes of your camera, and the eyes of your heart!

    Love all the religious statues and paintings they are all so unique and so very special, I am so glad that they are preserved and protected in this museum.

    Thank you again!

    1. Thank you Sharon. That is exactly how I feel about it, they are loved and protected.

  14. Sharon CrigSt

    Wow! So beautiful! The grounds are such a vibrant green! Absolutely stunning!

  15. Teddi Sue Wilson

    Thank you so much for this post. I so enjoyed being able to see the beauty of these pieces. Also so sorry for the negative post sent to you. Thank you again for the love and beauty you share in your posts.

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