cultural territorial networks

museum heritage

 

 

The networks of museums of Art Noveau and Overseas territories are determinant to understand its urban development in the industrial era, and the international connections of the Belgian state.
Masterpiece of the Art Nouveau style, the private house of Victor Horta embodies the very essence of his ideas that ultimately changed the early 20th century architecture. The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Tervuren is one of the world’s most fascinating and visually striking institutions devoted to Africa.
Located in a former Art Nouveau masterpiece, the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) is a first class touristic attraction and an overwhelming cultural experience.

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2.1 Museum Horta

 

Masterpiece of the Art Nouveau style and an outstanding work of exterior and interior design, the private house of Victor Horta embodies the very essence of his ideas that ultimately changed the early 20th century architecture.

Built between 1898 and 1901 in Art Nouveau style, Vicor Horta’s private house and atelier currently display furniture, utensils and art objects designed by Horta and his contemporaries as well as documents related to his life and time. Together with Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay and Hôtel van Eetvelde, Horta’s private house characterize the stylistic revolution of the Art Nouveau: open plan, the diffusion of light, and the brilliant joining of the curved lines of decoration with the structure of the building.

The House now hosts the Horta Museum and a documentation centre. The building is now listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The Horta Museum is actively involved in various international projects and initiatives that aim to promote and preserve the Art Nouveau heritage. The best known is the Art Nouveau Network supported by the European Commission.

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2.2 The Royal Museum for Central Africa

 

The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Tervuren is one of the world’s most fascinating and visually striking institutions devoted to Africa. The Museum is showcased within a beautiful French neoclassical style building, surrounded by a magnificent park with ponds and French gardens. It displays a unique and extremely varied collection of ethnographic objects, works of art, musical instruments, photographs, maps, films, minerals and animal specimens coming mainly from Central Africa.

Following the success of the 1897 International Exhibition that promoted Congo towards the Belgian audience, King Leopold II decided to establish in the following year a museum that would organise exhibitions.  and encourage the study of Central Africa. The present building was built at the beginning of the 20th Century and was officially inaugurated by King Albert I in 1910. After Congo’s independence in 1960, the museum was renamed the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA). From then on, field work and collections covered a much broader area. Today, the RMCA is also an established centre of research and knowledge dissemination and plays an active role in several international cultural projects.

Ever if this museum embodies the early 20th Century colonial perspective, it currently tries to adapt to the new museographic trends and requirements. The Museum is about to engage a general renovation phase (to start in 2011) that will bring a touch of modernity to its classic buildings and display cases.

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2.3 MIM

 

Located in a former Art Nouveau masterpiece, the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) is a first class touristic attraction and an overwhelming cultural experience. In addition, its rooftop terrace offers a breathtaking view over the city of Brussels.

The original museum dates back to 1877, when it used to be attached to the Brussels Royal Music Conservatory with the didactic purpose of showing early instruments to the students. Since 1992, the MIM has been part of the Royal Museums of Art and History. At the end of the 1990s, the Museum was moved to the iconic “Old England” building, where it officially reopened in June 2000. Today, the MIM displays over 1500 music instruments from all over the world, assembled in 4 galleries and enhanced by images and sounds. The MIM also has a concert hall, a museum shop, a library and a rooftop restaurant from where the spectacular view over the city gives a unique flavor to the menu.

The present museum is the result of a huge work of renovation and reassignment of an Art Nouveau building, transformed to meet the criteria of a contemporary museum institution and therefore can be presented as an example of successful insertion of a museographic project in a fragile historic building.

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