Belgium’s capital city is well known for its gastronomy and stunning architecture. There’s so much to see and do that you’ll be spoilt for choice. In particular, there are some fantastic art experiences and museums in Brussels, and we are sharing 10 of our favourites.
Brussels has some really striking street murals and outdoor art, from Tintin and Captain Haddock…
…to the anti-hero Gaston Lagaffe – you may feel like you’re living in the pages of a cartoon! There are all sorts of interesting artworks dotted around the city, like this statue of Gaston and this giant container by Luc Deleu, both on boulevard Pachéco.
Museums in Brussels – MIMA Museum
MIMA is one of the most interesting new museums in Brussels. Located in the newly renovated Molenbeek area, it focuses on street art in all its forms. There are some unusual artworks by talented artists such as the block prints by American artist Swoon. She uses coffee to stain her intricate linoleum block etchings of people.
Paul was particularly impressed by this rotating installation by FAILE aka Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller.
My favourite art exhibit would have to be the whole room designed by Maya Hayuk. It has the feel of a cathedral with light streaming through the glass on sunny days. If you’re in need of some refreshments afterwards, there’s a museum café, and over the bridge there’s the Brussels Beer Project – just one of the many great places to eat and drink in the capital.
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium on Rue de la Régence houses not one but 6 museums with a superb collection of paintings and sculptures. In the entrance, you will find superb paintings by Belgian artist Constant Montald. This symbolist painter had an incredible eye for colour as you’ll see from La Fontaine de l’Inspiration and Le Bateau de l’Idéal, hung in the entrance hall of the museum.
Whether you’re a fan of surrealism or not, you can’t fail to be impressed by the Magritte Museum, one of the 6 museums in Brussels that make up the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. Spread over several floors, it showcases some of the artist’s most iconic works. Magritte was an interesting character who tended to paint in a suit. Many of his neighbours didn’t realize that he was an artist.
His thought-provoking paintings are instantly recognisable – for me, a sign of pure genius.
5 – Belgian Comic Strip Center
The Belgian Comic Strip Center, also on Rue de la Régence is well worth a visit. It’s housed within a striking Art Nouveau building designed by Victor Horta, originally a department store.
As this is Brussels, you will of course find a focus on Herge and his most famous creation, Tintin. Step inside the pages of some of his iconic books like the Blue Lotus. Up and coming cartoonists such as Pieter De Poortere are also represented.
For sheer stylishness, the Foundation Boghossian at Villa Empain takes some beating. Located in an upmarket residential area, it’s an Art Deco masterpiece. From the striking front door to the rear swimming pool, the former home of Baron Louis Empain oozes timeless chic. Designed by Swiss architect Michel Polak, it’s now a museum promoting a dialgogue between Eastern and Western culture. There are some fascinating temporary exhibitions such as the current one featuring artworks by Daniel Buren, Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol.
Brussels is known for its Art Nouveau architecture and the Horta Museum on Rue Américaine is one of its finest examples. The former home and studio of Victor Horta was constructed between 1898 and 1901 and is listed by UNESCO for its pioneering architecture. Entering the house, you’re immediately struck by the innovative open plan layout and how light it is. The museum has recently opened an impressive extension which will feature regularly changing exhibitions of contemporary artists.
La Patinoire Royale
This attractive building, La Patinoire Royale, in the Saint-Gilles district was built in 1877 and was one of the first roller skating rinks in Europe. Its new incarnation as a contemporary art gallery works well. The high ceilings, Neo Classical architecture and white walls show off the distinctive artworks to their best advantage.
Hotel Amigo is more than just a luxurious place to stay. There’s an impressive art collection and also a Herge Suite. It’s the only hotel in the world that is authorised to use Tintin’s image. The Magritte suite is another stylish option if you’re a Surrealist fan.
MIM – Musical Instruments Museum
A Musical Instruments Museum may sound like a rather specialized interest but not so. Consistently rated in the top museums in Brussels by TripAdvisor, it’s located in a lovely building which is part Art Nouveau and part neoclassical. The 1200 exhibits are very well presented and there’s a lovely view over the capital from the rooftop restaurant.
Of course, there are many more art experiences and museums in Brussels but we hope to have given you a taste of some of our favourites.
Which one do you like the look of the best and are there any that you would add to the list?