Just like many other European cities out there, Antwerp is a treasure trove of must-see museums. Although many consider this Belgian city as an up-and-coming metropolis that's far from the level of Brussels, Paris, London, and more, let's not forget that Antwerp has a rich history and heritage that are all its own. It's regarded as the diamond capital of the world, not to mention an emerging artistic hub where many creatives and designers are taking the world by storm. It's only natural that the museums here, which not only show off what makes the city so great but also offer inspiration and influence, are worth your while.
Royal Museum of Fine Arts
The famous Royal Museum of Fine Arts proves that the city of Antwerp has had a long and historic relationship with art over the years. This stunning neoclassical building on Leopold de Waelplaats houses thousands of incredible works of art, ranging from the 14th century up to the early 20th century. It features all Renaissance, Rococo, Baroque, Impressionist, and Modern art, not to mention works of Flemish masters as well. Its renowned collection is unlike any other, making the Royal Museum of Fine Arts a must-see for art lovers from around the world.
Source: Royal Museum of Fine Arts Facebook Page
Museum Mayer van den Bergh
Fritz Mayer van den Bergh was a Belgian art collector who lived and breathed fine art. He spent most of his life completing his outstanding collection, particularly from 1897 up until his death in 1901. From then on, his mother, Henriette Mayer van den Bergh, founded a museum where his life's work is now displayed, all for the world to see. Located in the banking district of Antwerp
, Museum Mayer van den Bergh stands as one of the world's first private art collections to be turned into a museum. That alone gives you all the more reason to check it out!
Source: Museum Mayer van den Bergh Facebook Page/ © Karin Borghouts
Also known as 'The Ruben House,' the Rubenshuis museum is centered on one man: Peter Paul Rubens. The legendary Flemish painter was known for his Baroque works, eventually becoming one of the most influential artists of all time. Today, his former residence in the city of Antwerp now serves as a museum devoted to his life and legacy. Not only will you get to see some of his most famous masterpieces in person here, but you also get to learn more about the artist himself. Not to mention follow the paths that he once walked in his gorgeous estate in the city!
Source: Rubenshuis Facebook Page/ © Ans Brys
Museum aan de Stroom (M.A.S.)
Even though the Museum aan de Stroom, generally referred to as 'MAS,' is among the newer places on this list, it's actually one of the most famous too. This is thanks in large part to its unique modern architecture, with its reddish sandstone finish that beautifully offsets the blue waters of the Scheldt River. From afar, the place looks like a stack of blocks, far from the classical structures that house the city's other notable museums. However, MAS is the biggest of them all. It chronicles Antwerp's history as a port city with displays filled with historic artifacts, accurate replicas, and more. If you ever have one day to spend in Antwerp
, this is the must-see museum to visit!
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum
Just as its name says, the Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum is a place where the sun shines down on many works of art. Many of this museum's displays, which are mostly sculptures, are practically out in the open and are only covered when it's raining. Having them exhibited against the backdrop of nature gives the works more meaning than simply displaying them on lit podiums and against white walls. It's as if you get a better sense of what the artist is conveying when you see the sculptures amidst trees, grass, and the like.
Source: Middelheim Museum/ © Ans Brys
Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen
While most other must-seem museums on this list prioritize classic art and historic artifacts, the Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen on Leuvenstraat is a little bit different. Also known as Antwerp's Museum of Modern Art, this is where you can find contemporary Belgian art. From early 20th-century artworks to even an arthouse cinema that screens provocative movies, you can get a good sense of how art and other mediums have changed over the past century. Oftentimes, the place also serves as the perfect platform for up-and-coming artists to get their names out there in the art world.
Source: M HKA Facebook Page/ © Bram Goots
Housed in a 500-year-old Gothic castle, the Museum Vleeshuis Klank van de Stad, more commonly known as 'Vleeshuis,' is all about music. Weirdly enough, the place's structure doesn't have anything to do with its exterior. You'd easily think that this museum was filled with fine art or religious artifacts, right? Well, the truth of the matter is what you'll find here is a collection of musical instruments from various eras in history. It particularly has a strong focus on the minstrel, the wooden instrument used in the Middle Ages. There are also antique musical items that you won't find anywhere else.
Source: Museum Vleeshuis Klank van de Stad Facebook Page
Museum Plantin-Moretus is a field trip staple for many notable schools in Antwerp
. Educational institutions love bringing their young students here because this place is all about the history of printing. Housed in the former residence of Christophe Plantin, who founded the historic Plantin Press, one of the pioneers of the printing industry back in the 16th century, Museum Plantin-Moretus chronicles their contributions to the modern world. It was because of their efforts and hard work, most of which you can discover in the museum, that many literary classics became popular and were preserved to this day.
Source: Museum Plantin-Moretus Facebook Page
Antwerp's ModeMuseum, commonly referred to as 'MoMu,' is all about the history of fashion. It's no secret that Antwerp has become an important city in the fashion industry, what with the many designers
have learned and set up shop here. ModeMuseum further proves that Antwerp has had a long relationship with fashion over the years. It features a beautiful collection of haute couture
pieces, exhibitions on famous designers, and more. It's also a common reference for fashion students studying in Antwerp
to learn more about the industry, the craft, and get inspiration for their own creations.
Source: MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp Facebook Page
Antwerp's must-see museums offer such fascinating displays, beautiful artworks, and more. It's amazing how much you can learn and discover just by visiting one of them. But then, why not see all of them while you're in Antwerp?