Musea Brugge, the organization behind Bruges‘ urban museums, had a very good 2022. The various museums and monuments of the museum group together received nearly 700,000 visitors. After the various corona years, this is another fine step in the right direction.
“We are gradually approaching the 900,000 of our record year in 2019. We can be very happy with that, especially when you know that until mid-February there were still travel restrictions and so the first quarter was still very calm,” said Nico Blontrock, alderman for culture. “From the Easter vacations onward, our numbers have soared.”
After the tentative revival of 2021, we can now talk about a very successful year 2022.Nico Blontrock, alderman for culture
A solid tourist attraction remains the Bruges Belfry, which received some 195,000 visits. “Just under a third of all our visitors climb the Hall Tower, which we can therefore rightly and justifiably continue to call our Bruges pride,” said Mayor Dirk De fauw. “We are therefore already looking forward to the major renovation of the Belfry, after which we can no doubt count on even more interest.”
Many other locations were also particularly popular with the general public. In the museum section of the Church of Our Lady, the city welcomed no less than 150,000 visitors. And with 100,000 visitors to the Groeninge Museum and 74,000 to St. John’s Hospital, among others, Musea Brugge really continues to hold great trump cards for foreign as well as domestic visitors. Michelango’s Madonna at the Church of Our Lady, continues to be an important tourist attraction.
Many positive trends were also evident from the influx of foreign visitors last year. Elviera Velghe, Director of Musea Brugge (Public & Exhibitions) pointed out that visitor numbers from neighboring countries have at least doubled per country compared to 2021. “We received over 80,000 French, 60,000 Dutch and 50,000 Germans,” Velghe said. “Starting this fall, the British also returned in large numbers. With over 30,000 British visitors, we are still far from normal figures. After corona and the Brexit, it is step in the right direction here as well.”
Domestic visitors also continue to flock to Musea Brugge. In 2021, there was an exceptionally high number of Belgian visitors, with a share of almost 60%. “Last year this was still 34%, or still twice as many as before corona,” Mayor De fauw said. “This figure also makes me optimistic, because it means that Belgians continue to find their way to our museums even without corona restrictions.”
De fauw noted the successful temporary exhibitions in 2022, such as those of Otobong Nkanga and ‘Eye to Eye with Death,’ in St. John’s Hospital. And for the public activities alone, the city could count on more than 7,000 attendees.
The digital reach of Musea Brugge continues to rise. A museum of the 21st century is open 24/7 in a digital way, according to Elviera Velghe. “Traffic to our website, our main digital gauge, increased by almost 50% compared to 2021,” she said. “That accounts for a total of almost 600,000 users. We owe that significant increase to the strong digital campaigns of our rebranding in the spring and our two top exhibitions in the summer and fall.”
So much good news about the past year, although many Some challenges, however, remain in 2023, emphasizes. “We are still a long way from the 900,000 visitors of top year 2019, so there is still some work to be done,” Alderman Blontrock said.
He hopes to welcome many more visitors from Asia again in 2023. “This year we are going to make domestic and foreign visitors extra excited about our permanent collections, which we will put at the center of a major spring campaign,” he said. “In December, the renovated St. John’s Hospital will open its doors, which will also attract a lot of people. We have an exciting year and exciting challenges ahead of us.”