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Antwerp Museum Guide

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Antwerp is a small city with a thriving European art and history culture. Although the illustrious Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is undergoing renovations until 2019 there are numerous fascinating and worthwhile museums in Antwerp that you shouldn’t miss out on!

Our top 5 picks include the Plantin-Moretus Museum, The Red Star Line Museum,  Rubenhuis Museum, Museum aan de Stroom, and the Museum Mayer van den Bergh.

Plantin-Moretus Museum

Step into the the only museum in the world with UNESCO world heritage status. The Museum Plantin-Moretus on the Vrijdagmarkt focuses on the printing company built by Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus in the 16th century.

The printing company was a family owned and operated business for 300 hundred years before turning it was sold to the city of Antwerp and made available for public visits. Learn more about the founders and their family history within inside the four walls of their beautifully kept residence and workplace.

Inside you can visit the two oldest known printing presses in the world,  find original lead type fonts, a Gutenberg bible, the Biblia Polyglotta (a bible in 5 languages), old printed maps, books, manuscripts, print drawings and more. Portraits painted by Paul Rubens hang from the golden leather walls.

Bibliophiles will linger in the Great Library, a 17th century styled private library filled with high shelves and decorated with globes. 

View the living quarters of writers and workers, check out the exhibit on the printing process and where books hot off the press were sold.

Plan to stay for a few hours at this engaging printing museum. If you only have time to see one museum in Antwerp, go to the Plantin-Moretus Museum.

There is also a reading room and library if you wish to conduct further research of your own. Opening hours are from Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.

The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is 6 to 8 euros. Kids under 12 get in free. Plan your visit here.

Red Star Line Museum

The Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp brings the stories of the passengers that travelled from the port of Antwerp to North America with the Red Star Line Shipping Company up until 1934.

The museum is situated in a warehouse complex that formerly belonged to the shipping company and was utilized as the medical and administrative centre centre for over two million passengers before departure.

Despite opening their doors in 2013 to the public, the museum has quickly become a popular museum to visit. The museum does a fantastic job providing background information, showcasing personal immigration stories, and embedding numerous interactive exhibits in variety of presentation formats throughout the building.

Open Tuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is 6 to 8 euros. Kids under 12 get in free. Plan your visit here.

Rubenshuis

Peter Paul Rubens was an influential flemish painter in northern Europe during the early 17th century. His work can be found impressive art galleries such as the Louvre, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, the National Gallery in London and other internationally acclaimed museums.

Rubens was raised in Antwerp and later designed a house and studio in the center of town to both reside in and work from. Rubenshuis contains the studio that he and his apprentices painted in, where his art collection was held, and his living quarters.

Rubenhuis Museum
Rubenhuis rabbit and lobster painting

This imeccably restored house will take you on a journey back to the XVI century offering a glimpse into the high society life of Antwerp’s most famous artist.

Spend a few hours wandering through this superb museum passing Cordoban leather lined walls and linger to admire various impressive Flemish art masterpieces.

The spacious round studio concluding the interior visit of the Rubenhuis museum hold the larger pieces of works from Ruben’s art collection, some of which were from his apprentices, including Flemish artist Anthony van Dyck. Afterwards head outside and enjoy the garden pavillion and portico (once renovations are finished in 2018).

Open Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is 6 to 8 euros. Kids under 12 get in free. Plan your visit here.

Museum aan de Stroom (MAS)

The Museum Aan De Stroom is the largest museum in Antwerp with a collection of half a million museum pieces with permanent and temporary exhibits. Learn about the history of Antwerp here, study how other cultures approach death or view Pre-Columbian art among other topics.

The architecture of the MAS is inspired by the 19th century warehouses that used to reside in the area that the MAS is located. Exhibition rooms are stacked above each other but offset by a quarter turn relative to the room below creating a spiral pattern.

On the square in front of the MAS, there is a large mosaic from resident Antwerp artist Luc Tuymans. As you ascend to higher floors of the MAS building, the “dead square” art piece becomes more apparent.

Walk along the Boulevard, the path along the galleries ascending in a spiral fashion to the tenth floor of the building by escalators. Gaze outside through the 6 metre high curved glass windows on each floor and appreciate the ever changing view of the city outside with every story climbed.

On your way up, stop and stare at the Saluting Admiral Couple artwork piece by Antwerp artist Guillaume Bijl positioned outside on the edge of the 8th floor.

At the top of the building step outside onto the rooftop boulevard. Here you stand 60 metres above the ground with a panoramic view of the city by the river and it’s industrial port.

Getting to the top is free but if you want to visit one or all of their exhibits tickets can be bought from the ground floor.

Ticket prices vary between 2-10 euros.  Hours vary slightly between summer and winter season. Plan your visit here.

Museum Mayer van den Bergh

The art collection found at Museum Mayer van den Bergh once belonged to Fritz Mayer van den Bergh, a Belgian art enthusiast born in 1858 and died in 1901.

He was fond of Gothic and Renaissance art and consequently amassed up to 1000 pieces of artwork in this style during his lifetime. He was particularly fond of Dutch and Flemish Belgium artists.

After his death, his mother built the neo-gothic house museum to store and showcase her son’s expansive art collection. Today we are able to gain an insight into his artistic tastes through the curated collection of paintings on display.

The leather wallpaper and glass stained windows add to the charm of this small art collector’s museum.

Open Tuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is 6 to 8 euros. Kids under 12 get in free.  Plan your visit here.

Plan Your Visit

The Plantin-Moretus Museum, The Red Star Line Museum,  Rubenhuis Museum, Museum aan de Stroom, and the Museum Mayer van den Bergh are all publicly owned by the city of Antwerp.

  • Museums are open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm 
  • Admission is  8 euros for visitors from 26 to 65 years. € 6 for visitors from 12 to 25 years. Kids under 12 get in free. Exception: MAS has a different admission structure.
  • A combo ticket for Rubenhuis and Museum Mayer van den Bergh costs 10 euro rather than 8 euros separately. Ticket is valid for a week.
  • The Antwerp Welcome Card This card grants you access to all of Antwerp’s museums within a 24hr, 48hr or 72hr time frame.
  • If you’re arriving by train bring your NMBS ticket and receive a discount on admission
  • Take advantage of free entry on the last Wednesday of each month!

We would suggest staying at least two to three days for a proper introduction to Antwerp. Among museums, shopping, sightseeing, gastronomy there are plenty of things to do to keep you busy.  Planning on visiting Belgium soon? Don’t leave home without travel insurance, we use insurance by World Nomads for short trips.

If you plan on using transit often or are travelling with companions consider buying a Lijn Card or day pass. Check transit options here.

Budget travellers will want to stay at the Antwerp City Hostel, located directly in the city centre. Couples could consider staying in B&B De Witte Nijl, a 19th century Flemish mansion with bright rooms and big breakfasts. If you’re arriving by train and Lindner Hotel is situated close to Central Station, numerous food options and shopping opportunities.

Which museums would you be keen to visit? Happy exploring!

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