Brussels’ Magritte Museum has opened its doors to the public once more, after a six-month refurbishment. The museum has reopened just ahead of the beloved Belgian surrealist’s 125th anniversary in November.
To celebrate, 29 new works are on display, lit by new LED lighting and hung on freshly painted walls. The museum has also repaired and breathed new life into its impressive parquet floors, and renewed its hanging system, multimedia infrastructure and security. What’s more, a giant apple, one of Magritte’s signature motifs, now adorns the museum’s roof space. The improvements cost 450,000 euros.
With the world’s largest collection of Magritte works and considered by many the jewel of the six Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, the museum originally opened in 2009 and has become one of the best-known in Brussels, in the five-storey new-classical Hotel Altenloh, atop Mont des Arts, on the capital’s Place Royale.
Since its inauguration, it has welcomed over 4 million visitors and its collection, displayed in temporary homes, continued to draw crowds during the partial closure.
“The Magritte Museum has become an essential part of the Belgian museum landscape.Thomas Dermine, Belgian Secretary of State
“An institution, even a very popular one, should never live on its achievements,” said secretary of state Thomas Dermine, marking the official full re-opening on Friday, 6 October. “After 4 million visitors, it was time to renovate the premises to provide a better welcome for the public, to use more energy-efficient techniques, and to ensure that the works of the Belgian painter are even better preserved and showcased.”
René Magritte was born in 1898, the eldest son of a tailor and hat-maker couple. He studied art, served in the Belgian infantry, and was profoundly influenced by metaphysical art and symbolism.
He worked for wallpaper and advertising firms and joined the French Surrealists, but considering how famous he is today, some may be surprised that he was forced to make money by a range of means throughout his life, including forged paintings and even forged banknotes. The interplay between what is “real” and what is fake, dream or representation is a theme that runs through his work.
As well as making the most of the museum’s new offering, until November, visitors to the Belgian capital are invited to discover a series of art installations inspired by Magritte’s artistic language, including umbrellas, clouds and flying besuited men in bowler hats, in various locations around Brussels.