Victor Hugo once wrote that it’s ‘the most beautiful square in the world’.
This year, the Belgian Museomix community will be remixing a museum located on the very square he was referring to –  the Grand Place of Brussels!

Your museum:
Brussels City Museum

Your workspace:
Just across the square, the famous city hall

The 10th, 11th & 12th of November 2017

A neogothic masterpiece, the building is called ‘Maison du Roi’ (‘King’s House’) in French and ‘Broodhuis’ (‘Bread House’) in Dutch. This double name can be explained by the history of the building itself. ‘Broodhuis’ refers to its first use as a bread hall in the 13th century, whereas ‘Maison du Roi’ invokes the title of its owner, the Duke of Brabant. In the 16th century, the Duke was none other than Charles Quint, ‘king’ of the Spanish. The Maison du Roi was protected as a cultural monument of Belgium in 1936 (it was one of the first Belgian buildings to benefit from this protection) and, along with the entire Grand Place, was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.

With more than 7000 pieces, the museum is one the richest testimonials to the evolution of Brussels through time. Paintings such as Le Cortège des Noces (‘The Wedding Procession’) by Jan Breughel the Elder or Le Bombardement de 1695 (‘The Bombing of 1695’) present the overarching historical narrative of the city as well as the personal stories of its inhabitants. These paintings can be found alongside famous Brussels tapestries including Le martyre de saint Paul (‘The Martyrdom of Saint Paul’) and its exceptional cartoon. A model takes you back to the 13th century while plans and maps show the urbanisation of the city. You can also admire wooden and stone sculptures from buildings in Brussels and ceramic tiles in the shape of asparagus and cabbage. Not forgetting, of course, the symbol of Brussels – the Manneken-Pis. The original statue remains in the museum although its precious wardrobe has recently moved and can be explored at Rue du  Chêne, just next to the fountain.

Alongside the permanent collections, the museum offers exhibitions focusing on the city of Brussels. From the end of August 2017, the poet Charles Baudelaire will take over from Pieter Coecke. Towards the end of his life, Baudelaire actually lived in our capital city for 2 years, though he didn’t particularly enjoy his time here. In his article ‘Pauvre Belgique’ (‘Poor Belgium’), name calling, insults and harsh criticisms allow us to hear and see a bitter Parisian’s perception of a ‘provincial town’.

What are your playgrounds ?

The Brussels City Museum is not just one museum

5 different museums make up the city museum group: La Maison du Roi, the Costume and Lace Museum, the Sewer Museum, the Manneken Pis Wardrobe and the archaeological site Bruxellae 1238. How can we link up these different museums, all relating to the city of Brussels?

Mysterious new acquisition

The 1695 bombing and 20th century ‘Brusselization’ have lead to the disappearance of huge sections of old architecture. The museum has recently acquired a painting that could reveal lost information. There are still things to be uncovered about the city depicted and the period of the painting.

Which patron saint to choose?

Saint Michael and Saint Gudula both have firmly established reputations Brussels. Two statues of them, which were too damaged to remain at their original locations, can be found in the halls of the City Museum. How can we give them a new lease of life?

Tapestries and what lies beneath

We often speak of tapestries but people tend to forget that, in order to make one, you need to start with a cartoon that you can copy. The Maison du Roi has a rare example of one of these which features the martyrdom of Saint Paul. This fragile cartoon has recently benefitted from a complete restoration carried out by an international team from November 2015 until May 2017. How can we preserve the memory of this unique restoration process, and that of the essential role of the cartoon in tapestry weaving?

 Accessibility

Do you have any crazy ideas to transform the museum and make it more accessible?

Museum & the city

The museum has several rooms which present ‘snapshots’ of the city of Brussels through time. This playground will focus on the evolution of the city and how best to present it, explain it and bring it to life.