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Acting as a melting pot between the Germanic cultures to the north and Romance cultures to the south, Belgium is the thriving central hub of Europe. As such, there’s a deep well of history to draw upon when visiting its capital, with lots of different aspects like contemporary art and musical history to dive into. Brussels has a fantastic range of museums which do a great job at framing the history of not just the city but the country, as well as looking toward the worldwide context for some artistic works and historical events. Here are some of our favourites which we think should be included on anyone’s trip to Brussels.
Focusing specifically on Belgium, the BELvue Museum takes a look back at the country’s history as well as the theme of democracy and how everything relates to Belgium’s outlook on the present day. This is the museum to start your journey for understanding Belgium on a deeper level, using interactive exhibits to give visitors a retrospective on the events throughout history that helped shape Belgium’s cities and inhabitants. Seven themes run parallel to the history, giving you a look at the values which Belgium holds in the highest regard and how the country’s history has come to treasure these key aspects. Although there’s a lot of looking back within this museum, the history it puts forth isn’t static – it’s the key to understanding the modern landscape of Belgium and its people.
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Containing 20,000 works of art which chart the course of the visual arts from the 15th century right up to the present day. Almost every artistic medium is present here, from sculptures to painting to installations, with separate museums under the Royal Museums banner which cover different aspects, like the Musée Modern Museum for contemporary artistic pieces and several dedicated to specific artists like Meunier and Wiertz. Within the twenty thousand individual pieces, there are a number of works specifically by Flemish Primitives represented within the gallery, perfectly preserved to provide a clear look back at the influential artists of Flemish background.
Musical Instruments Museum
Music has an almost magical property to it that tunes into our emotions and can affect our moods in the most profound ways. The MIM brings together a collection of over 1,500 different instruments that conduct this sort of power, some of which have very specific stories to tell about where they came from and who played them. While the ground floor covers Belgian musical history specifically before broadening out to European and global musical traditions, the first and second floors are dedicated to instruments of every shape, size and sort. The best bit is that the museum provides you with infrared headphones that allow you to listen into samples for certain instruments to get a fuller sense of their sound.
Taking a trip over to Brussels couldn’t be simpler than hopping on a ferry to Europe with DFDS – with up to 54 crossings throughout the day from Dover, there’s a ship to fit every schedule. The wealth of culture and history that Belgium has to offer is perfect for soaking up over a long weekend, with fantastic food and bustling nightlife to while away the evenings.
Imagery- (c) Fonds Belvue (https://www.flickr.com/photos/visitflanders/)
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