The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Isabelle Vanhoonacker

head of the Educational Department / Responsable EDUCATEAM

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Museumstraat 9 / rue du Musée 9 1000 Brussel / 1000 Bruxelles Belgium

In an endlessly changing setting, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium present the most extensive panorama of a story which began in the XVth century with the Flemish Primitives. The Museum houses 20,000 works to establish its reputation as the leading cultural institution in Belgium. It comprises the Museum of Ancient Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Wiertz Museum and the Meunier Museum - two museums located in the former studios of these essential 19th century artists. In 2009 its new Magritte Museum, will further expand its offering by paying tribute to an essential artist, who epitomises the ls"belgian condition'.

The greater part of the collection of the Museum of Ancient Art is composed of paintings from the former Southern Netherlands including the precious panels of the Flemish Primitives, such as Rogier Van Der Weyden, Petrus Christus , Dirk Bouts, Hans Memling and Hieronymus Bosch. The paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Elder and his sons are the crowning point of the many currents that developed in the XVIth century. The XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries are noticeably conspicuous through masterpieces such as the altar-pieces and the sketches by Peter-Paul Rubens, a set of paintings by Jacob Jordaens and the striking portraits by Anthony Van Dyck

The Museum of Modern Art shows the collections from the XIXth century to the present day. Neoclassicism spans the XVIIIth and the early XIXth century with, among others, masterpieces by Jacques-Louis David and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Franccedil;ois Gerard, Mathieu and Philippe Van Breacute;e and, above all, Franccedil;ois-Joseph Navez. Masterpieces by Gustave Courbet, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Paul Gauguin and Edouard Vuillard are also present. The Symbolists, Fernand Knopff, Jean Delville, William Degouve de Nuncques together with Edward Burne-Jones close the XIXth century.

Belgian art has left its mark on the international trends of the XXth century and is broadly represented by the compositions of Rik Wouters, Paul delvaux, Reneacute; Magrite as well as well as by important paintings by Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dali and Max Ernst, Expressionists such as Constant Permeke, Gustave De Smet or Frits Van den Berghe together with the Abstract artists led by Georges Vantongerloo, Victor Servranckx and Pierre-Louis Flouquet complete this exceptional company.

The Magritte Museum, a 2.500 m2 area within the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, offers the largest collection of works of Reneacute; Magritte anywhere in the world. Offering perfect testimony to the work of Reneacute; Magritte, the collection uniquely covers every period of the artist's life in every medium. The works to be displayed, including the artist's greatest masterpieces, come mainly from the Iregrave;ne Scutenaire-Hamour legacy, the legacy of Georgette Magritte and purchases by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, supplemented by private loans.

Linklaters De Bandt Museum Award 2008


The Museum Award is an initiative of Linklaters De Bandt and Openbaar Kunstbezit Vlaanderen.
The yearly Linklaters De Bandt Museum Award gives a prize to one museum in Flanders, one museum in Brussels and one museum in Wallonia. Each of the three winning museums receives a cash prize of 10.000 euro.
Only museums which are open to the public at least two days a week can participate.
Galleries and exhibition houses are excluded.
The winning museums must use the cash prize to encourage underprivileged people, handicapped, children or youngsters to take part in the cultural life of the museums.
The Museum Award is based on the idea that deprived persons have more problems with their cultural exclusion than with their financial exclusion.
First round: public Jury and professional short list jury. The public can vote for its favourite museums. There is a short list of three museums per region (Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia).
Second round: Award Jury: A professional award Jury of 5 members elects out of the shortlist the 3 prize winning museums.
The selection criteria are
- special museum programmes for underprivileged people
- Innovative museum collections or exhibitions
- Outstanding small or unknown museums

Linklaters De Bandt Museum Award 2008

Won by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

In 2008 the Royal Fine Arts Museum of Belgium won the Award for several reasons:
1. The jury congratulated the Museum with its successful Rubens exhibition in 2007 for a public friendly, interesting a fascinating interpretation its scientific contents.
2. The Jury appreciated the general public approach of the educational department of the Museum, EDUCATEAM.
3. Also the recent fusion of the Flemish and French speaking educational departments in one single department has been applauded.
4. The jury admired the pioneer role of the Educational department in the field of specific public groups programmes (the visually impaired, the deaf, hard of hearing, people with physical and mental disabilities) and vulnerable community groups (homeless, poor people hellip;) as well aw its will to transmit and communicate its knowledge and experience the subject with other cultural institutions.

Nowadays museums have an increasingly important cultural and educational role in society. Taking account of this role, the educational service of the MRBAB has considerably increased its activities in order to target specific audiences. The programmes for people who have little or no contact with museums or art has recently been brought together under the umbrellla term: Educateam-Museum to Mesure.

Educateam-Museum to Measure has four specific public programmes
Since 2001, the programme for visually impaired specially adapted touch tours for blind and visually impaired visitors in the Museum's sculptor's collections.
These regular touch tours involve a combination of discussion, raised images, handling objects. Since 2006 we have been developing tours in order also to access our permanent painting collection and temporary exhibitions (correspondence work with poetry, music pieces and Braille drawings in combination with discussion).

Since 11 years, the Museum also opens its doors for the deaf and hard of hearing and all those who use or wish to find out about sign language.
Our team includes four deaf guides who speak to their public in sign language.
Tours in the permanent collection and the temporary exhibitions are organised.
We have also a successful family and school bilingual tour in French and sign language.

A third programme is particularly aimed at those who have social, cultural, educational or financial disadvantage, which has limited, or even excluded their previous participation in art.

The last programme, which started in 2003, is at those with health problems (psychological, relational or psychiatric problems) and those with physical and mental disabilities.

Educational projects

Thanks to the Museum Award 2008 Educateam, the educational department of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, could realise some ls"dream' projects in the field of promotion, publication, material, contents:

For the first time a bilingual brochure 2008-09 was realised presenting our educational programmes for all public (school groups, individuals, cultural associations, the minority groups covered by Museums to Measure...).

A handbook to share our thoughts and experiences on images for people with sign impairments is foreseen. The publication is destined to other educational departments and cultural institutions countrywide and should enable them to develop their own programme. It will be very soon available on our website in French and Dutch.

Adapted high quality material for the guided tours destined to visually impaired persons has been purchased and a sonorous library is being developed.

As far as the programme for deaf and hearing impaired people is concerned, the development of an equivalent programme for the Dutch language has been launched because of the different policies of the French and Dutch speaking educational departments in the past.

ls"Regards croiseacute;s d'ici et d'ailleurs'. This publication has been conceived in collaboration with immigrants who visited the museum and followed creative workshops in the context of alphabetization courses. It gathers a number of interviews and creations.


The Linklaters De Bandt Museum Award 2008 was not only a financial and moral support to the coordinators of Educateam- Museum to Measure, but also an acknowledgment for the many years of hard work to make the Museums accessible for the visually impaired, the deaf, hard of hearing, people with physical and mental disabilities as well as vulnerable community groups (homeless, poor people,...). On top of that the moment was perfectly chosen as we were developing these public programmes for the new Magritte Museum.
Let's hope a lot of other Belgian museums might also profit of this great initiative in the future.

View all