Coming up: my online travel writing class for Catapult in mid-April.

Trio of Belgium’s museums

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.

[photos by: witness 1, droute, mishkabear]

Disclaimer: My recent four-day trip to Belgium was sponsored by the Belgian Tourism Board.

Blog Comments

I LOVE the pictures, especially the graphic of Tin Tin! The whole mood of the post is absolutely cool.

The MIM is special. I have visited it with a fellow adult (I studied music at university, so some stuff was of special interest to me) and with a five year old, who loved the hands on parts, listening stuff and just general coolness.
And yes the rooftop restaurant is excellent – the staff are really friendly and an excited five year old did not phase them at all, despite the fact it looks like a rather 'smart' restaurant. And the food was excellent!

Surrealism is not restricted to the museums, here in Brussels. Look what I found: http://unexpectedtraveller.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/braving-all-weather/

The Unexpected Traveller

I'm so glad you went to the Musical Instruments Museum! It's one of my favourites in Brussels and so often gets overlooked.
Thanks for writing up your thoughts on the Hergé Museum as well. I have yet to go there, but am looking forward to visiting soon.

Thanks, Trudy! The pictures aren't mine but I think they go really nice with the post.

Yes, Megami, the MIM is beautiful, particularly the building itself.

That lamp post must be feeling pretty warm, Unexpected Traveller.

Thanks for visiting, Veronique!

Yea, a fellow museum-lover! I just went to Brussels in March and got to see the Musée Magritte too and loved it!

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