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

Johan van der Tol (2 years ago)
Visited the Dutch spring exhibition. Some very nice and interesting pieces on display. The tour was not as well marked, so don't forget to take the audio tour. Definitely worth a visit when you are in town.
Branimira Palic (2 years ago)
Do visit! Don't even think of visiting all of it at once. It is a very nice museum in the city centre. Try to focus on what you like most, otherwise you will be exhausted by the time you get out.
Hande tunçay (2 years ago)
Get lost in Magritte's mind. You can find his early work and the craziest ones exhibited on 3 levels of the museum. The best part is the videos where you can see this mad man and his wife and friends trying something new and having so much fun! The audio guide definitely worth it! This is not a comment (:
Nimrod Lavi (2 years ago)
This was one of the best museums with some of the most interesting displays we've been to. We really enjoyed the Magritte exhibition currently on display as it was very interesting to see all of his work they collected and the flow in which they decided to display it, and to learn about the artist himself. We would definitely recommend coming here and spending a few hours covering all the rooms and exhibitions in the museum.
emily marks (2 years ago)
Wonderful, extremely large museum. I would advise breaking the visit up into a couple of days if you have time. The audio tour was a nice guide throughout the museum. Art from the some of the "Greats" displayed masterpieces from local historical artists. Interesting to see the contrast in style from those in other regions of the world. Some great impressionism pieces housed here as well. The Magritte Museum was bizarre, thought provoking and fun. I highly recommend a visit for anyone somewhat interested in art. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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