Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Brussels, Belgium

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are a group of art museums in Brussels. There are four museums connected with the Royal Museum, and two of them (the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Modern Art, Brussels), are in the main building. The other two (the Constantin Meunier Museum and the Antoine Wiertz Museum) are dedicated to specific Belgian artists, are much smaller, and are located a few kilometers from the city center.

The Royal Museum contains over 20,000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings, which date from the early 15th century to the present. The museum has an extensive collection of Flemish painting, among them paintings by Bruegel and Rogier van der Weyden, Robert Campin (the Master of Flémalle), Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens. The museum is also proud of its 'Rubens Room', which houses more than 20 paintings by the artist.

The painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, long-attributed to Brueghel, is located here and forms the subject of W. H. Auden"s famous poem Musée des Beaux Arts, named after the museum.

The main building which now houses the Museum of Ancient Art was built as the Palais des Beaux-Arts, designed by Belgian architect Alphonse Balat and funded by King Leopold II. Balat was the king"s principal architect, and this was one part of the king"s vast building program for Belgium. The building was completed in 1887, and stands as an example of the Beaux-Arts architecture use of themed statuary to assert the identity and meaning of the building.

The extensive program of architectural sculpture includes the four figures of Music, Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting atop the four main piers, the work of sculptors Égide Mélot, Joseph Geefs, Louis Samain, and Guillaume de Groot respectively. The finial, gilded Genius of Art was also designed by de Groot. The three rondels of Rubens, van Ruysbroek, and Jean de Bologne, who represent painting, architecture, and sculpture, are the work of Antoine-Joseph Van Rasbourgh, Antoine-Félix Bouré and Jean Cuypers. The two bas-relief panels are Music by Thomas Vincotte and Industrial Arts by Charles Brunin. The two bronze groups on pedestals represent The Crowning of Art by Paul de Vigne, and The Teaching of Art by Charles van der Stappen.

On the side of the building, a memorial commemorates five members of the Mouvement National Royaliste, a resistance group, killed during the liberation of Brussels on 3–4 September 1944.

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Founded: 1803
Category: Museums in Belgium

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User Reviews

Jan Neirynck (2 years ago)
Magritte has his own space in this great museum and only this exhibition is already worth while the visit. Vast collection of old masters and always most interesting temporary exhibition. At this moment a retrospective on the cubism period of Pablo Picasso. Free lockers ( bring a piece of one euro though...) or free cloackroom.
Emilia (2 years ago)
One of the most beautiful museums i’ve ever been!! Beautiful place and beautiful works of art!! Definitely recommend to visit!! Everyone who love art and even those who aren’t the biggest fans should visit this place because it’s breathtaking!!
Collins (2 years ago)
A must visit when you are in Brussels. Beautiful building, amazing collection of artwork! You can easily spend a whole day wandering around. Staff were friendly and helpful. Entrance is free on the first Wednesday of the month! The old masters collection is simply amazing. Lockers and drinking water available.
Vitor de Oliveira (2 years ago)
In a nutshell, this museum cannot be missed if you’re in Brussels. Great works of great masters, wonderful building, one may spend countless hours in this magical place.
Yup (3 years ago)
I mean there's just nothing bad to say about this place. All the exhibitions here offer a full pot of different cultures and genres in different forms of art from drawings on paper to ceramic pots. The staff there is friendly. You can easily spend over 3 hours on each section here. The perfect place for an art connoisseur
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