Last week I blogged about my recent visit to Brussels, themed around chocolate and art. In the days following that post, I was exposed to even more art. So here, the highlights of my remaining time in Belgium.
One rainy morning, we headed to the museum district of Brussels to tour the recently opened Musée Magritte Museum. Unveiled in June 2009, the museum displays the world’s largest collection of works by this renowned Surrealist artist. It celebrates the painter’s life and oeuvre through a multidisciplinary showcase of more than 200 pieces. As you walk through the dark rooms, you can admire Magritte’s oils on canvas, gouaches, drawings, sculptures and painted objects as well as posters, music scores, vintage photographs and films that he produced over the years.
A stone’s throw from the Magritte Museum is the Musical Instruments Museum, better known as the MIM. More than the 1200+ collection of musical instruments from around the world on display in four galleries, I enjoyed wandering around the beautiful building, an attraction in and of itself. Built in 1899 and designed by architect Paul Saintenoy, the former New England building is one of Brussels’ Art Nouveau gems. Since 2000, it has been home to the delightful MIM. After a ramble around the galleries, make sure to check out the rooftop restaurant with great city views and unusual acoustics.
I loved visiting the new Hergé Museum, devoted to the creator of Belgium’s most famous comic-strip character: the globetrotting Tintin. Situated in Louvain-La-Neuve, a town 20 miles southeast of Brussels, the Hergé Museum is housed in a dazzling building designed to evoke a moored oceanliner (many of Tintin’s adventures were of the maritime kind). Concrete, steel and glass blend seamlessly into an airy organic structure that just calls for lingering.
In the eight themed galleries, I learned more about Hergé’s life and inspirations behind his comic books, translated into over 80 languages. They’re not without controversy; Tintin in the Congo has been criticized for its racist stereotypes. Even though Hergé later claimed he simply portrayed naïve colonialist views of his time, I do take his work with a pinch of salt. Still, the stunning museum is worth a visit, if only to be informed about the man behind Tintin and make up your mind on the spot. Hollywood caught on to the Tintin craze too; Steven Spielberg is currently producing a Tintin movie in 3D.
For more about this small and charming country, browse around VisitBelgium.com.
Disclaimer: My recent four-day trip to Belgium was sponsored by the Belgian Tourism Board.