On the 7th of December, the House of European History reopened its doors to visitors. The new temporary exhibition is called: “Fake for Real: A History Of Forgery and Falsification”, and it explores the world of forgery, fakes and falsehoods.
“We are delighted to welcome visitors back to our museum,” said the Museum Director, Dr. Constanze Itzel. “We look forward to present these elements, share stories and start conversations with our visitors about hope and life during a pandemic.”
The exhibition goes from antiquity to the present day, and visitors are invited to reflect on how falsehoods are told and for what purpose. A display of mirrors at the entrance and a maze-like structure through the exhibits give visitors a feeling for what lies ahead. What do we call truth, and why?
The exhibition offers a rich display of more than 200 remarkable artifacts from all over Europe. There are documents of critical importance such as the Donation of Constantine and the letters used to accuse Dreyfus in France at the end of the XIX century.
Disinformation in the times of Covid-19 is also addressed. “Disinfodemic” is a timely reminder that truths and untruths are constantly circulating and that critical thinking on the part of each individual is needed to avoid creating panic or even social unrest.
Another section called: “Era of Post Truth?” offers an interactive space filled with games and videos where visitors become fact checkers. They become those who decide what sees the light of publication. They also get the chance to explore how social media works.
1. The Building
The House of European History opened on May 6th, 2017. The incubation period to the birth of the museum was a long one. From the first launch of the idea in 2007 to the inauguration of the House, ten years later. The House of European History is located in the Eastman building, Park Leopold – at the heart of the European quarter in Brussels. The 25 acre park was opened to the public in 1880 on the grounds of the former Royal Zoological Garden.
Built in 1934-35 in pure Art Deco style, it had been a dental clinic for disadvantaged children in Brussels financed by the US businessman and philantropist George Eastman, inventor of the Kodak camera. The architect was Michel Polak (1885-1948) the same person who designed another remarkable building in Brussels, the “Residence Palace”, a former building for housing diplomats in Brussels in the decade before the second world war. It is now a conference centre and an office building for the press on Rue de la Loi.
The consortium Chaix & Morel Associés and JSWD Architekten renovated the building by adding a glass structure to the top and enlarging it to include the backyard. This provided more space for all the exhibits, permanent and temporary ones alike. Art Deco images in the Atrium, created by the Belgian artist Camille Barthelemy, representing animals from the Fables of La Fontaine, have been carefully restored and welcome the visitor with an enjoyable and airy atmosphere. The paintings have now been lovingly restored and are on display in the former waiting room, for visitors of the House of European History.
2. Good to know
Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (except 24, 25, 31 December and 1 January)