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Museums of Brussels (Part 2)

I managed to squeeze in visits to seven museums in two days - five in Brussels and two in Waterloo.

Highlights as follows (with photos in the gallery):

Brussels City Museum

  • Magnificent, dark, neo-Gothic building that really stands out on the Grand-Place surrounded by gold-trimmed buildings

  • Tells the history of Brussels through its many sculptures, tapestries and paintings

  • Home to the original Manneken-Pis

Old Masters Museum

  • A whole room dedicated to Pieter Bruegel the Elder (and his two sons)

  • Back when copying was not a crime, Pieter the Younger and Jan copied many of their fathers paintings (as well as painting their own in his style) for wealthy patrons

  • Turns out that the Proverbs I saw in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem was one such copy - the original is in Berlin (so now on my list of must sees)

  • Also saw works by another favourite of mine, Hieronymus Bosch

Fin-de-Siècle Museum (Fine Art)

  • Located in the same complex as the Old Masters Museum and Magritte (see below) so a no-brainer

  • An eclectic mix with a good selection of Art Nouveau pieces, which is not surprising as Brussels stakes claim to being the birthplace of the movement, and its favourite son, Victor Horta, the architect behind some of its more impressive buildings.

Magritte Museum

  • The largest collection of renowned Belgium artist René Magritte

  • Lots of his works will be known to you (such as This is not a pipe) - as they lend themselves to posters and postcards

  • Lots of snippets of recorded interviews with him too - he was often asked to explain his work but never did… he painted what his imagination gifted him at any given time

  • Whimsical (but not), it was a sheer delight!

KRB Museum (Library Museum)

  • Illustrated manuscripts - beautifully preserved

  • 600 year old pilcrows - lively and colourful

  • Commissioned in the 15th century by characters such as Philip the Good, John the Fearless, Charles the Bold, Mary of Burgundy and Philip the Fair.

  • Works of art!

  • They even had a cabinet on medieval bindings (could it get anymore exciting!)

Wellington Museum - Waterloo

  • Located in an 18th century coaching inn in the centre of town

  • The Duke of Wellington set up his HQ in the inn on 17 and 18 June 1815

  • He also wrote the victory announcement from there and dispatched it to Whitehall

  • Lots of artefacts on display - including weaponry

  • Details all the key players in La Belle Alliance, as the allied forces were known including the Prussians, without whom, the Battle of Waterloo would likely have been lost to Napoleon

Memorial 1815 and Butte du Lion (The Lion’s Mound)

  • 10 minutes on the bus from the centre of Waterloo towards Braine-l’Allend and you arrive at the battlefield

  • An impressive museum - lots of flashy immersive features (for kids really)

  • The Lion’s Mound (see galley) was worth the leg-work (stairs) to get a great panoramic view of the battlefield - Prince William of Orange (later King William III) was injured on that site so his dad built the mound and monument for him (1820-1826)

  • Unfortunately, its a 14km trek to walk to entire site (including Napoleon’s HQ) and while keen, I didn’t discover that until too late in the day

  • Oddly, the shop was dominated by Napoleon merch… not so much as a Wellington coaster on sale

The museums I wished I’d had time to see:

  • Musical Instruments Museum

  • GardeRobe Manneken-Pis (the wee man’s wardrobe museum)

  • Jewish Museum of Belgium

  • Museum of Medicine

  • The Guild of the Crossbowmen

  • Autrique House - Victor Horta’s first landmark building

P.S. I wrote the first Brussels post on the train to Cologne and the second on the train to Berlin which, unfortunately, broke down just outside of Hanover… but I made to Berlin. Huzzah!

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01. Mai 2023
Mit 5 von 5 Sternen bewertet.

Re medieval bindings, have you read People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks? You might enjoy …

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01. Mai 2023
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Love love love Magritte‘s work.

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