As you may noticed I spent the holidays in Belgium, it was a lot of fun but definitely not the best time for an arty trip as most of the galleries were closed. This little inconvenience gave me the opportunity to discover alternative art spaces, but also to go back to the museum.
Except at the Wiels, I did not put a foot into a museum in Brussels since college. Back in the day you paid 5 euros the entrance of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and had access to all the collections, through the years the museum lost its modern art wing and made, in my opinion, a silly decision by separating the art from 15th to 18th century from the 19th century one. Why it looks so bad? Because it screams financial motivation. Each “museum” ticket is now 8 euros, so if you want to see their entire collections we go from 5 to 16 euros. In a time where everywhere else in Europe we try to make culture more accessible it seems like a punch in our faces. Would major institution such as the National Gallery do that? The debate is open.
About the Fin de Siécle Museum itself, despite the terrible lighting the collection is beautiful and the curation well done. You can find some key figures of the Belgian art such as the tormented James Ensor, the wonderful Fernand Khnopff, Henri Evenepoel, Théo Van Rysselberghe,Henry Van de Velde and my favorite Henri de Braekeleer. The visit reminded me what I like about Belgian art, it’s a very social art, showing not only the elites but the people, the farmers, the factory workers, and simple scenes from the daily life.
The plus? We had fun using the big touch-screens that give you the opportunity to visit the inside of some Art Déco houses from Brussels in 3D, it gives you a good introduction to architecture and interior design in a playful way as there are games to do.
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Photo Credit : Sarah Aucremanne