Brussels may not be the largest European capital, but culturally it has relatively a lot to offer. The Wikipedia list of museums in our town shows no less than 83 of them! How many have you been to yet? I personally still have some “been there, done that” to do, although I know that visiting museums is more than crossing them of your list. Each of them has its own history, its own purpose and has a special story to tell. They are part of the city, and discovering these places should therefore be one of your priorities for integrating into Brussels.
To give you some ideas, here is a top-10 list of the definite must-sees (in random order).
1. Autoworld This museum is a true Valhalla for car lovers. Not less than 250 vehicles from all around the world are on display, spanning over one century of automobile history. Located in Parc Du Cinquaintenaire and spread over two large floors you can see spectacular models, including old race cars and several Belgian ones.
2. Museum of Natural Sciences Only a stone’s throw away from the European Parliament lies a splendid museum chock-full of fascinating dinosaurs skeletons, the continent’s largest collection, including many large Iguanodon reptiles that were found almost 1,5 centuries ago in a mine in Western Belgium. Furthermore you will find many whales skeletons, stuffed animals, insects, minerals and fossils. Needless to say, this museum is great for children!
3. Magritte Museum Dedicated to surrealist painter René Magritte (1898 – 1967), this museum opened only a few years ago. It shares its entrance with the Royal Museum for Fine Arts, but is housed in a building on Place Royal. Over 200 Magritte works are on display, including his famous “Ceci n’est pas” works and his photography collection.
4. Horta Museum The legacy of architect Victor Horta is visible all over Brussels, but the Maison & Atelier Horta is the most important place to visit. In fact, it’s not a traditional museum, because the master actually lived and worked here. The house is located close to Place Châtelain and is Art Nouveau into the very details. The Horta House is on Rue Americaine (left), whereas the two other houses are located on Rue Defacqz and Rue du Lac.
5. BELvue & Coudenberg Technically these are two museums. BELvue is dedicated to the history of Belgium that began with the revolution in 1830. Through many unique documents, artefacts, and videos you will gain an in-depth understanding of the country you live in. The Coudenberg is actually an archaeological site where three centuries ago a beautiful large palace stood. Over many years various corridors and halls were excavated. During your underground visit you will discover these old and fascinating structures. Discover Brussels from centuries ago!
6. MIM – Musical Instruments Museum A true gem in between the Magritte, BELvue and Bozar museums, the MIM (Museum of Musical Instruments) houses a unique collections of thousands of instruments from all over the world. The MIM pays specific tribute to the Belgian musical history, including the inventor of the Saxophone who was born in Dinant, Adolphe Sax. Infrared headphones give visitors also the opportunity to listen to 200 musical instruments.
7. Cinquantenaire Museum Another museum in the Park du Cinquantenaire that carries its name. You can find artefacts from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, as well as treasures from the far East, the Americas and the Islamic world. The museum is large and you easily spend several hours there.
8. Museum of the City of Brussels As inhabitants of Brussels, we cannot afford to miss the museum that is fully dedicated to the history of our city. Right on the Grand Place opposite the City Hall, it gives visitors a good view on the historical background of this city by guiding them along a range of artifacts, from paintings to sculptures, and from tapestries to city maps.
9. Musée d’Ixelles Tucked away in the neighborhood Ixelles you can find a museum with a history of over 120 years. This lovely institution houses an attractive and surprisingly large art collection of paintings, sculptures, etches, drawings, and posters, spanning the past five centuries. And every few months they host a wonderful exhibition by one or more famous artists or a specific genre.
10. Van Buuren Museum and gardens Hidden deep inside Uccle, this museum probably requires the largest travel time for most of us. Still, it’s worth the effort. Built in 1928, this Art Deco house that was built and owned by banker and patron of arts David van Buuren and his wife Alice, presents an impressive collection of art that includes names such as James Ensor, Vincent van Gogh, and Peter Brueghel the Elder. Additionally, the gardens surrounding the house are a must-see too.
As you can see, and probably already knew yourself, there are wonderful and fascinating museums to visit. But now the question is, will you actually go there? Expat Club would like to help you break the habit of procrastination by inviting you to join us to each of these museums. It is the best way to discover a new part of Brussels in a fun and relaxed way. Even if you don’t like certain themes (e.g. cars or modern art) why not challenge yourself to expand your horizon, to get out of your comfort zone, and be surprised by how fascinating those museums actually are? As said, each of the museums has a story to tell. And to ensure that story comes fully across Expat Club always arranges professional guides to show you around. This way you get a true understanding of what you’re looking at and a great connection with the city you live in. And since we normally have coffee, lunch or drink before or after our visit, it is a superb way to get to know many new people at the same time.