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.
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!