The Museum at the Crossroads of Europe

The director of the Royal Museum has closed the section for modern art and will concentrate on a museum for «fin de siècle » and with a future vision on a museum for contemporary art.

-Today the general opinion is that all cities should have a museum for contemporary art. But our museum represented modern art from the nineteenth century and was unfortunately located in a basement, says Michel Draguet, director of the Royal Museum.

– We have to evaluate what we do best. We have the best of Flemish art and a historic library dating back to the Burgundians.

This was a royal house based in Belgium and Holland between 1364 – 1477. They were keen patrons of the arts and built up a fantastic library.

– But we have no Italian Renaissance art and therefore cannot show a chronological European exhibition. And we have nothing by Kandinsky, Mondrain, Warhol or Rauchenberg, but we do have a lot of exciting art from Brussels.

Draguet emphasizes the fact that London is only two hours away and Paris and Cologne only one.

– I am trying to create something unique. Something you won’t see anywhere else. I want you to know you are in the museum in Brussels.
An example of this is a fantastic fin de siècle museum.

– From 1880 until 1940 Belgium experienced an exciting period, a lot of it connected to the art magazine L’Art Moderne which was in circulation from 1860 until 1918. We want to show we are the museum at the crossroads of Europe. We start with realism Impressionism didn’t exist here. However we focus on the divisionism of for instance Les XX who were formed in 1883.

This was a group of 20 artists including Theo van Rysselberger, James Ensor, Ferdinand Khnoff etc. The group arranged their own exhibitions for ten years in a row. They also invited other artists to exhibit such as Camile Pissaro (1887, 1889, 1891), Claude Monet (1886,1889), George Seurat (1887, 1889, 1891, 1892), Paul Gauguin (1889, 1891), Paul Cezanne (1890) and Vincent van Gogh ( 1890, 1891).

– We are also represented by Rene Magritte and Marcel Broraine, and in addition to this we will focus on architecture and the city.

– But what about contemporary art. Do you feel any obligation here?

– We will be building a new museum for Contemporary Art and have already found a suitable location and I am currently working on a financial plan.

– Do you think you will achieve you goal?

-If this proves to be an impossible mission I think that this country has no life in its own time and no future. It will be the end of Belgium.



* Belgium became a country in 1836.

* In the short time the country has existed it has managed to become one of the richest countries in Europe (1889 to 1910) and become the center of the European Union. In 1958 Brussels became the capital of the EU. NATO moved its headquarters here in 1967.

*The cities in Belgium have a long history prior to the formation of the country:

Bruges (1128), Antwerp (fourth century)

Ghent (ca. 650) in Flanders, and

Liege (705),

Namur (Celtic period) and

Mons (Roman period) in Wallonia.

* Brussels dates back to ca. 1000.

* Belgium is divided into three regions:

Flemish-speaking Flanders, French-speaking
Wallonia, and Brussels – meeting place of French and Flemish.

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