Museums in Antwerp (Flanders - Belgium)

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali

Thanks to MuseumPASSmusées, I've been exploring several Museums in Belgium. I've been on 4 different day trips to Antwerp so far! First was to just visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Antwerp, 2nd to do the Unusual Free Things to do in Antwerp, 3rd & 4th were to visit the various Museums in Antwerp. 

Work in Progress DiVA Antwerp Tom Cornille
Pic Credit: ©DIVA Antwerp. Photo by Tom Cornille 


THINGS TO DO ON A DAY TRIP TO ANTWERP
Why day trips? Well, with the 50% off ticket either with the Weekend Internet Ticket of SNCB or the 50% off Discovery Pass of MuseumPASSmusées on weekdays, it costs €8.80 for a return journey and Atyudarini is still young enough to ride SNCB-NMBS train for free! 2-day trips mean I spend €8.80 extra and I'm most definitely sure that I won't find accommodation in Antwerp that cheap!!! The transport time between Brussels Central and Antwerpen Central is less than 1 hour by train. So, economically, day trips make so much more sense. This is one of my many ways to save money when traveling in Europe!
There are a whopping 17 museums in Antwerp just under MuseumPASSmusées and quite a few more that aren't included as well, It would take quite a few days to just do a museum tour of Antwerp. On my 2 day trips to Antwerp, I managed to visit quite a few Antwerp Museums, and here's all about it.

TOP 5 ANTWERP MUSEUMS TO VISIT

MAS Museum Aan de Stroom Antwerp

MAS Museum Aan de Stroom Antwerp

MAS Museum Aan de Stroom Antwerp

MAS Museum Aan de Stroom Antwerp

MAS Museum Aan de Stroom Antwerp

MAS - MUSEUM AAN DE STROOM
The most majestic museum of Antwerp and the most extensive, the largest museum in Antwerp is MAS! Museum Aan de Stroom literally means Museum on the River in the local language of Flemish (Dutch)! The tower of MAS is visible from far away and stands tall with 10 floors! Of the 10 floors, the topmost floor is the panoramic viewpoint; one floor is for the offices, one floor is for events and the rest 7 floors are all parts of the museum!
First of all, the building itself is quite intriguing. It was designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architechts. There are 3185 'palms' all over its exteriors! Every alternate floor has a partial glass wall, with a view of the mighty river Scheldt, as well as the view of the Museum Square from atop where Luc Tuyman's Dead Skull artwork has been exhibited! From the outside, the curvy glass wall gives an interesting textural change!
The 2nd floor is the Visible Storage (the museum pieces that are not on display!). The 3rd floor is for the temporary exhibition and when we went, the exhibition 'Listen' was on. The 4th floor is dedicated to 'Celebration' - Antwerp is a melting pot of various cultures & races, and so are the various celebrations in the city - Antwerp Pride, Dia de Los Muertos (Mexican), Ganesha Chaturthi (Indian), etc. There are also 2 Dance Organs on display which were extremely popular in the 1900s. They function similar to a jacquard loom, where the punchcards either block or let thru the needles - which creates the tunes. But what's fascinating here, is that it plays not just one instrument but a multitude. It was just so fascinating! Luckily there was a demo, the day we went!  The 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th floors are dedicated to  Antwerp's Food, 'Antwerp a-la-carte', 'Freight Ships', 'Life & Death', and 'Precolumbian American Art'. It is so extensive that it takes at least half a day to even browse through all the floors. We skipped the 7th & 8th floors and directly headed to the panoramic view. The view was absolutely phenomenal. Esp., the view of the river & the boats are just so stunning. Of course, you also get a view of 'Dead Skull' and if you look further there's the whisperer, 'de Antwerpse Fluisteraar' climbing a building. 

Where is MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom) Antwerp (on Google Maps)Museum aan de Stroom
How to reach  MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom) AntwerpThe nearest tram stop are Antwerpen MAS (connected by DeLijn Tram No: 7 from Antwerp Meirbrug which is connected by DeLijn Antwerp Metro No: 9/15 from Antwerp Diamant Metro (Antwerp Central) and then 2 mins walk) and Antwerpern Londres (connected by DeLijn Tram No: 24 from Antwerp Central and then 500m (8mins) walk)
MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom) Antwerp Tickets: Panorama is free for all! Museum - €12. Can be bought online via the official website of MAS Antwerpen. Free with MuseumPASSmuséesAntwerp City Card.
MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom) Antwerp Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00AM - 5:00PM
Demo of Dance Organs: Only on Tuesdays & Sundays.

Red Star Line Museum Antwerp

Red Star Line Museum Antwerp

Red Star Line Museum Antwerp

Red Star Line Museum Antwerp

Red Star Line Museum Antwerp

RED STAR LINE MUSEUM
Red Star Line Museum is what my daughter calls the 'Ship Museum of Belgium'!  As the name suggests, the museum is all about the Red Star Line ship that sailed between Antwerp & New York/Philadelphia via Liverpool/Southampton in the early 1900s. Though it was in operation since 1902, it shot up to popularity and had major demand during the 2 World Wars when many people, esp., Jews during WWII, came to Belgium from as far as Poland and then fled Europe via Red Star Line and immigrated to the USA, away from the war!
The original warehouse of the Red Star Line ships has been now converted into a museum. The museum is dedicated to the personal life stories of the millions of European Refugees who fled the war, including a few famous personalities like Albert Einstien. 
The ground floor has a little movie and several life stories of people who fled the war via the Red Star Line. Then a room with a miniature of the actual Red Star Line and various posters of the era. Then the visit continues on the 1st floor with the various video accounts of people who traveled in the Red Star Line. The rooms here were about the various classes of tickets on the ship, the medical check-ups the passengers had to undergo, the fear of epidemics & other diseases, the immigration policies of the USA over time, etc.
The very last room is dedicated to the modern era - the people who have immigrated 'to' Belgium (instead of from Belgium as it happened during the wars) from around the world. Interviews of expats in Belgium on why they immigrated here, their life here and the differences between their home country & here, etc can be watched. Quite interesting and for me, as an expat myself, it was quite amusing as well!

Visiting Red Star Line Museum with kids: Red Star Line Museum is one of the best museums to visit with kids. They have this Family Suitcase activity where the kids follow the life of Bassia, a little girl whose father is in the USA already, and how she & the rest of her family get onto the Red Star Line and go to her father. The activities include packing a suitcase, filling out a form, writing a greeting card to a loved one, building a ship out of blocks, etc. Atyudarini most definitely loved all the tasks!

Where is Red Star Line Museum (on Google Maps)Red Star Line Museum
How to reach Red Star Line Museum: It is located just 600m (7mins walk) from MAS (Museum Aan de Stroom). Reaching here by public transport is same as MAS.
Red Star Line Museum Tickets: €12 Can be bought online via the official website of Red Star Line Museum. Free with MuseumPASSmuséesAntwerp City Card
Red Star Line Museum Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00AM - 5:00PM

Rubenshuis Rubens House Antwerp Museums

Rubenshuis Rubens House Antwerp Museums

Rubenshuis Rubens House Antwerp Museums

Rubenshuis Rubens House Antwerp Museums

Rubenshuis Rubens House Antwerp Museums

RUBENS HOUSE
As the name suggests, this was the house of Peter Paul Rubens, the world-famous artist of the Baroque Era. The house is on 2 floors and the audio-guided tour begins on the ground floor, goes to the first floor, then the garden and out! 
Peter Paul Rubens bought a piece of land with a small house, along with his first wife Isabella Brant in 1610 CE. Over the years, they expanded the house bit by bit with a studio, statue gallery, portico, garden pavilion, etc. He also set up a gallery of various other artists! He lived and worked here till 1640 when he died. The house has undergone renovation and only certain portions of it are still like how they were original, as built by Rubens.
After a few paintings by other artists in the first room, the 2nd room is the kitchen, complete with the historic utensils and the painting of Still Life with Dead Birds by Alexander Adrianensse. The next room features a portrait of Helene Fourment, Rubens' 2nd wife who he married in 1634 CE after his first wife died in 1626 CE. Further ahead is the gallery, which has paintings of not just Rubens but also Paul Bril, Frans Snyders, Willem van Haecht, etc. The semi-circular sculpture gallery has the bust of Seneca, a 1st C CE Roman Marble sculpture that Rubens brought from Italy! 
After seeing the bedroom, linen press, etc on the 1st floor, back on the ground floor we were at the Studio. One of the most important paintings here is, of course, the self-portrait of Peter Paul Rubens.  Atyudarini was particularly fascinated by Neptune & Amphitrite by Jacob Jordaens. This room also has one of Rubens' earliest works - Adam & Eve. The garden would have been absolutely charming in spring, but since we went much later, there were hardly any flowers there, but with some sculptures and benches, it is one nice place to sit down & relax. 

Where is Rubens House (Rubenshuis) (on Google Maps): Rubenshuis
How to reach Rubens House (Rubenshuis)1km (10 mins walk) from Antwerp Central Railway station. You could take Antwerp DeLijn Metro Route 9 or 15 till from Antwerp Diamant Metro (Antwerp Central) to Antwerp Meir Metro and then walk 350m (4 mins). 
Rubens House (Rubenshuis) Tickets: €12 Can be bought online via the official website of Antwerp City Museums. Free with MuseumPASSmusées & Antwerp City Card
Rubens House (Rubenshuis) Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00AM - 5:00PM

Snijders& RockoxHuis Snijders and Rockox House Antwerp Museums

Snijders& RockoxHuis Snijders and Rockox House Antwerp Museums

Snijders& RockoxHuis Snijders and Rockox House Antwerp Museums

Snijders& RockoxHuis Snijders and Rockox House Antwerp Museums

Snijders& RockoxHuis Snijders and Rockox House Antwerp Museums

THE SNIJDERS & ROCKOX HOUSE - HET SNIJDERS&ROCKOXHUIS
Snijders & Rockox House is a museum comprising 2 adjacent buildings which were once the residence of the Snijders family & Rockox family! So, who were those people? 
Frans Snijders (1579–1657) was an Antwerp draughtsman and painter. He lived here with his wife Margriete de Vos Frans Snijders. He had worked on several projects together with Peter Paul Rubens. His next-door neighbor for 20 years was Nicolaas Rockox (1560-1640). He was a politician of the era and was also an art collector & patron. They formed a great friendship and collaborated a great deal! Today, the 2 neighboring houses, together, form the Museum of Snijders & Rockox House which is under ownership at KBC bank!
An iPad-guided tour of Snijders and Rockox House is very easy. Just point to the various paintings or sculptures and the iPad gives you all information about them! Since both Snijders & Rockox were art collectors, the museum is now room after room of stunning art pieces of the 17th C CE. Not just paintings & sculptures but also tapestry, historic household items, books, furniture, etc as well! 
In the very first room standing majestic are the Portraits of Archduke Albert and Infanta Isabella by Peter Paul Rubens and the view of Antwerp City & Cathedral from an interesting perspective. Another piece of art that caught my attention was the sculpture of a breastfeeding Madonna and the Child. I was also quite fascinated by the Gimmel ring with Memento Mori - a stackable ring with a tiny skeleton sculpture in it. It was something I had never seen so far. It is a historical piece of jewelry that reminded the wearer of the inevitability of death. 
The garden in the inner courtyard is charming and the doors that lead back into the museum from the garden have been painted to match the serenity of the place which makes it one of the most unusual, instagrammable locations in Antwerp!

Where is Snijders & Rockox House (Snijders&Rockoxhuis) (on Google Maps): Snijders&RockoxHuis
How to reach Snijders & Rockox House (Snijders&Rockoxhuis): Snijders and Rockox House is located 850m (10 mins walk) away from Rubens House. Reaching here by public transport is the same as Rubens House, mentioned above. 
Snijders & Rockox House (Snijders&Rockoxhuis) Tickets: €10 Can be bought online via the official website of Snijders & Rockox House. Free with MuseumPASSmusées & Antwerp City Card
Snijders & Rockox House (Snijders&Rockoxhuis) Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00AM - 5:00PM

PLANTIN-MORETUS MUSEUM
Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus together set up a prestigious printing company which was one of the major publishing houses of Renaissance & Baroque printing in the 16th C CE. Today it houses the Plantin-Moretus museum and it is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Antwerp as well! Read all about Plantin-Moretus Museum in my other article on the UNESCO Sites in Antwerp.

Where is Plantin Moretus Museum (on Google Maps)Plantin-Moretus Museum
How to reach Plantin Moretus Museum: 1.8km (25 mins walk) from Antwerp Central Railway station. Take Antwerp DeLijn Metro Route 3 or 5 till Antwerpen Groenplaats and then walk 350m (4 mins). 
Plantin Moretus Museum Tickets:  €6. Can be bought online via the official website of Antwerpen City Museums. Free with MuseumPASSmusées & Antwerp City Card.
Plantin Moretus Museum Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 10:00AM - 5:00PM

Plantin Moretus Museum UNESCO World heritage sites in Antwerp Belgium

DiVA Diamond Museum Antwerp

Work in Progress DiVA Antwerp Tom Cornille
Pic Credit: ©DIVA Antwerp. Photo by Tom Cornille 

OTHER ANTWERP MUSEUMS TO VISIT

DIVA - MUSEUM FOR DIAMOND, JEWELRY & SILVER
Antwerp is the city of diamonds and DIVA, is Antwerp's Museum for Diamond, Jewelry & Silver. Diva is actually one of the major museums of Antwerp but currently, Diva Museum of Antwerp is closed for renovation till Dec 2022. However, they have set up a pop-up museum in the Grote Markt (Grand Place - Central Square) with some displays and a museum shop! Worth a quick visit when you're in the area. The expo is called Pop-up Diva: Work in Progress. Apart from Diamonds, Silver, Gold Jewelry, there's also an area dedicated to storytelling about jewelry from history to contemporary where you even get to see jewelry made of non-traditional materials incl. textiles, leather, etc. 
Btw, it is us, modeling and being photographed by Tom Cornille, for DIVA Anterwerpen at their Pop-up Diva: Work in Progress expo!

Where is Diva pop-up museum Antwerp (on Google Maps): Diva pop-up museum
How to reach Diva pop-up museum Antwerp: It is at the Grote Markt. It is 1.6km (20 mins walk) from Antwerp Central Railway station. Take Antwerp DeLijn Metro no: 9 or15 from Antwerp Diamant Metro (Antwerp Central) and reach Antwerp Groenplaats Metro. Grote Markt is 400m (4 mins walk) from Antwerp Groenplaats Metro.
Diva pop-up museum Antwerp Tickets:  Free!
Diva pop-up museum Opening Hours: Thu to Tue10:00AM to 6:00PM (closed on Wednesdays)

HENDRIK CONSCIENCE HERITAGE LIBRARY
Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library is a library! It is such a charming library that its photos reminded me a bit of Leuven Bibliotheek and Mons Mundaneum. Unfortunately, it is closed on Sundays and that's when I went! So, I'm yet to visit Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library. It is open for visits as well as for reading, obviously! 

MODE MUSEUM - ANTWERP FASHION MUSEUM
Like Diva Antwerp, Mode Museum (Fashion Museum of Antwerp) is also closed for renovation. Check the official website of Mode Antwerp for updates! On the other hand, if you're interested in visiting a Fashion Museum, check out the Mode Museum in Hasselt.

FOMU (FOTO MUSEUM) & KMSKA (FINE ARTS MUSEUM OF ANTWERP)
From the heart of the city, if Red Star Museum is located at one end of the city, FOMU is located in the other end of the city. I might have to visit Antwerp again to see Foto Museum of Antwerp along with the Fine Arts Museum of Antwerp (KMSKA) located just beside it. However, the KMSKA is closed for renovation as well and would open by the end of 2022. Check KMSKA's official website for updates. So, yet another Antwerp Day trip at the end of 2022 maybe?! 
Bookmark this page and I will update this at the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023 after visiting FOMU, KMSKA, DIVA, and Mode Museum in Antwerp.

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Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

8 comments:

  1. Wow, I'm really impressed with the world class museums to visit here and definitely would put all of them on my list. I'm in awe that painters had such amazing villas, the home of Peter Paul Ruebens is really stunning, almost like a castle. Mas looks amazing with their exhibits and the views are worth it on their own. The Diva museum sounds really unique in its focus on the Diamond trade and the Red Start line sounds fascinating with the shipping transport history. They all sound fantastic to visit.

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  2. I have been so many times to Antwerpen and I never thought of visiting these interesting museums. I had focused more on watching the architecture from outside. The Rubens house looks so interesting. He is one of my favourite Flemish painters. I would like to visit the Red Star Line museum as well.

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  3. I was actually talking with a friend today about Belgium, and I mentioned that Antwerp was my favourite city in the country. There are so many amazing museums there. MAS is amazing, and the viewing platform offers such an incredible view over the harbour area. I have passed by the diamond street, but never visited the diamond museum. I need to do that next time I visit Antwerp, especially that the city is known as the best place to buy diamonds from, in all Europe.

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  4. I sadly didn't have a chance to go to any museums when in Antwerp. I went there for the shopping, which is what this city is known for. Clearly, there was more to Antwerp than it's town square and shops. My top pick would definitely be Red Star Line- I am obsessed with that time period.

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  5. This is helpful. We have been planning to visit Museum aan de Stroom but still have no idea how to get there. Happy to know that it is very accessible. We'll keep in mind to visit on a Sunday so we can see the demo of dance organs.

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  6. Those are some great museum options in Antwerp. The MAS would be my top pick, it seems to be like the National Gallery of Victoria, with its various floors, ongoing exhibitions and the expansive art. It’s indeed fascinating to note that the organ plays multitude tunes. The Reubens house looks charming, would be interesting to explore the room with works of Adam & Eve. The Red Star Line museum would also be on my list.

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  7. To visit museum, you need a different mindset and ample time. But I am so glad to know that you and ur little one had a great time exploring these museums . I didn't know that there are 17 museums in Antwerp just under MuseumPASSmusées which is a great deal for museum lovers. It's a great read and quite informative.

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  8. I did not know that Belgium has that many museums. The post quite educational and helpful for those who want to visit Antwerpen. Looking forward to read about the FOTO muesum.

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