Museum aan de Stroom

Carl Depauw

Museum aan de Stroom

Hanzestedenplaats 1 te 2000 Antwerpen Belgium

Antwerp, Belgium

European Museum Forum / Silletto Prize 2013

Building bridges with communities

Voted by the audience as the best formal presentation on September 27th 2014

In a stunning building, the MAS tells a largely untold story about Antwerp in the world. And about the world in Antwerp.

The MAS unites diverse collections previously on show in a number of Antwerp''s former museums:the Folklore Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Butcher's House. Furthermore, it houses the Paul and   Dora Janssen-Arts collection of Pre-Columbian art. But it also looks beyond the walls of the museum to the city and the world outside. The MAS has the largest collection of dockside cranes in the world and supports and works with heritage communities large and small all over the city. Beside its own collection - 470.000 items - the MAS co-operates with more than 250 heritage organizations, professionals and non-professionals.

The focus of the common story is the long history of trade and cultural exchange between the city and the world. The MAS tells new stories based on evidence of that mutual exchange. Stories about the city, the river and the port. About the world in all its diversity. About Antwerp's age-old links with the world. This combination is what makes the MAS unique: it is local ls"Antwerpian' and it is global and thus glocal.

The new museum opened its doors in 2011 and created a new mission statement .

The MAS performs as a ground-breaking museum that tells the story of the people, the past, present and future of the city of Antwerp and the world. The MAS | Museum aan de Stroom - a landmark on the boundary between the city and the port - is a ground-breaking museum that tells the story of people with diverse mentalities who came from a multitude of backgrounds.  It is for those who are curious about the past, present and future of the city of Antwerp and the world. It is a museum for those who want to know more about Antwerp's place, and their own, in the world. The MAS is a cultural heritage forum that works with various collections and methodologies. It is developing a diverse intramural and extramural programme, the common theme of which involves stories of the river, the city, the port and the world. The MAS works with the public, experts and other partners on both national and international levels. It ensures maximum accessibility and involvement of the general public.

Working for and with communities is working in a global city and world. The mission is to develop a programme that is supporting and visualizing  this mission. More and more communities are involved in the MAS: they are becoming part of those who create exhibitions or develop a programme of museum activities.
Here is a summary of some of the recent activities (2012-2014).

There are more than 40 giants in Antwerp, mostly active in the suburbs of the town. All of these huge characters have their own personalities. In fact, a giant's life does have a fair amount in common with the lives of ordinary people. Giants are born. Their appearances change. Some of them marry, others just live together. Sometimes one will die or go missing. Above all else, however, they love celebrations among throngs of people. Old, and not so old, local giants were combined with artists's giants by the Greek Atopos., thus combining lower with higher culture.

The term ls"trackers' refers to fifteen Antwerp residents who are looking for Moroccan traces in the city. They collect memories, objects, pictures and films that tell a story about Antwerp and its residents. 
The heritage that is kept in Antwerp museums, archives and local historic groups could bear witness to its diverse population. However, it doesn't (so far). There are few visible traces of people with a different cultural background. By means of the trackers project we are trying to include the tremendous diversity of Antwerp heritage in our collections and presentations.
This exhibit (2012) displayed our search as ls"works in progress'' in the Viewing depot. Who are these trackers and what do they find with family, friends or former colleagues? In 2014 the final results within the framework of fifty years of Moroccan presence in Belgium is displayed in the permanent collection.


What do Antwerp's folk songs tell us about daily life in the city, then and now? Why is this music still relevant today? A mini-exhibition in the open-access storage area at the MAS goes in search of answers. For the second edition of ls"Folk Songs', rock musician Axl Peleman appealed to everyone still in possession of folk song scores, music books, texts and the like to bring them along to the MAS on several Wednesdays in October 2012. 
The choice of the MAS as a location was deliberate because in April 2013 a mini-exhibition about folk songs, seen from the viewpoint of the contemporary musician, opened in the open-access storage area. Axl Peleman curated the exhibition drawing on the material he had collected.


Antwerp has been designated European Capital of Sport 2013. For a period of one calendar year, ''Sporting MAS'' is bringing together sport and culture in the ls"boulevard' at the MAS.
The renowned Dutch photographer Hans van der Meer paid tribute to Antwerp's amateur football pitches in large panoramic photos and several films. Visual stories of Antwerp's sports clubs are told in display cases alongside the escalators. Suddenly, local (sport)communities are aware of the value of their heritage, showing the history of their club. They had a display in their MAS.


In 2013 the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp celebrated its 350th anniversary. To this end the Antwerp Academy, MoMu, MAS, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp and Antwerpen Open joined forces for a magnificent celebration throughout the city, with an exhibition in the MAS.

Fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck and museum curator Paul Huvenne prepared this show that reviewed some of the artistic highlights of the amazing history of Antwerp's Academy in an accessible and creative exhibition. A wide selection of masterpieces from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts was completed with masterpieces from the Academy's valuable collection and from unique private collections.

These works, combined with documents which had never been exhibited before, told the tale of the evolution of 350 years of higher art education in an academic, international and urban context. The works of veterans such as Rubens, Jordaens and Teniers were contrasted with those of more recent, world-renowned artists such as Van Gogh, Alma-Tadema, Panamarenko and Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven and other former students of the Academy.


In the Visible Storage, the MAS presented the story of Antwerp's Chinatown, with unique personal photographs, objects and stories from several generations of Chinese in the city, having collected these objects in close cooperation with Antwerp's Chinese associations.

Antwerp was an important port for Chinese sailors. Initially, it was where they sought temporary accommodation in between two ocean voyages and where they later came to live and work. In the 1920s, the first Chinese restaurants opened their doors, such as the Wah Kel restaurant, which literally means the ls"Chinese from overseas' and can still be found in the Schipperskwartier (the red light district).

MAS in Young Hands | MAS in Jonge Handen

How to get more young people to visit museums? Easy: just hand it over to them. Thanks, said ten young Antwerpers between the ages of 15 and 25 years. As a key feature  of the project, MAS in Jonge Handen (MAS in Young Hands), they have access to the depot, they can put together their own exhibitions and they can wave their own access badge at the entrance like all other MAS employees.


Browse by year

Browse by category

Browse by country

View all