The Royal Museum of Antwerp, Belgium Reopens

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) in Flanders, Belgium, has reopened following 10 years of extensive renovations. The collection was recently opened to the public and the event was marked with a grand festival in and around the museum, complete with performances, contemporary and interdisciplinary events, besides fun workshops for children, youth and families.

The threshold of the new museum was brought down to ground level, where an additional entrance was created. The renovated museum aims to be a place of encounter where everyone feels welcome. The museum is strongly committed to inclusion and participation. The focus is no longer just on gaining knowledge, but even more on experiencing.

According to Dikkie Scipio, co-founder of Netherlands-based architectural firm KAAN Architecten, “Renovating and extending a monument is quite a responsibility. It requires understanding the new use, it requires knowledge of and respect for the past and a vision for the future. The overall result is a building that both balances and challenges. The rebuilding was a unique experience, which did not follow the ordinary paths of an architectural project in any way. A great many people contributed, with their hands and/or heads, to the result that we can now celebrate and for which I owe everyone many thanks.”

With 8,400 pieces, the KMSKA’s collection is touted to be the largest of its kind in Flanders. The oldest work dates from the early 14th century. While the KMSKA owns art mainly from Belgium and the Southern Netherlands, it also has a good number of international masterpieces. The collection ranges from the Flemish Primitives and the Antwerp Baroque to an extensive collection of modern art with Rik Wouters, Henri de Braekeleer and René Magritte, besides the world’s largest collection of works by James Ensor.

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