10 Brussels museums you never heard of

These are the kind of museums where you won’t have to queue up for to get in, however they’d be worth it! While their collections are unfairly gathering dust, we urge you to go and conquer these hidden gems.

Erasmus House in the Beguinage of Anderlecht

Since the 13th century the smallest and cosiest beguinage of Belgium is located at Anderlecht. Surrounded by picturesque houses you’ll be tempted to lose time out of sight in this tantalizing time capsule, while the philosophical garden is an explicit invitation for contemplation and dialogue with the self, through “Tears from heaven” by Marie-Jo Lafontaine amongst other creations. Save some time for the Erasmus House itself as well, where the famous humanistic philosopher stayed for about 5 months, and that accommodates today a few absolute masterpieces. First in that list the “Adoration of the Magi” by Hiëronymous Bosch. As a triptych with a history it was stolen from the church of Anderlecht in 1973, but recaptured after an ingenious investigation. Read on about it in the catalogue “100 treasures”, which covers an engraving that portrays Erasmus by Albrecht Dürer, also located in this gothic house. Not too mention the original writings and editions by the humanist! 

ARGOS - Centre for Art and Media

From a medieval beguinage to a modern museum about the history of Belgian film and video art: we’re not scared of a major leap in time. ARGOS shows the same versatility as the Erasmus House, but in a completely different way. As Centre for Art & Media it hugely transcends its position as a showroom, but to us that’s still the most important. In a former industrial warehouse the visuals of one screen next to another will demand your full attention. 

Coudenberg Palace

This one’s quite underground. And when we’re talking about the old vestiges of the former palace of Charles V we’re not aiming for the groovy kind of underground. Underneath Place Royale, the square that connects several famous Brussels museums, there’s a hidden palace dating from the 12th century. However the remnants of the former glory receive no sunlight anymore, there’s still some sort of splendour and wealth noticeable. Absolute standout is the mid-15th century Aula Magna, what once was an enormous hall built upon the request of Duke of Burgundy Philip the Good. The banquet hall was the set for several milestones in our history, such as the declaration of majority of age and abdication of Charles V, respectively in 1515 and 1555. Pure Belgian and European history that’s certain to dazzle every aspiring archaeologist. 

Wiertz Museum

Romantic painter and sculptor Antoine Wiertz created powerful scenes and seemingly effortlessly matched his own role models of the Renaissance and Baroque. The Wiertz museum is a clear-cut example of a museum that’s just wrongly forgotten.

MEM - Museum of Erotics and Mythology

Perhaps you rather keep this visit to yourself. At the MEM you’ll trace the erotic origins through a diverse collection of art pieces and objects from the Antiquity until today. Especially the connection between mythology and erotics is investigated in a tasteful and educational way, but that won’t prevent you from leaving the museum with a subtle blush. 

art et marges musée museum

We know this counts for every museum, but in the case of the art et marges musée museum it’s even more so: this one doesn’t deserve to be in this list. In the notorious Marolles district this museum honours outsider artists: the artistic misfits armed with brushes and driven by desire. You won’t find their pieces in one of those captivating, but overpriced coffee table books and that’s exactly why we’re ecstatic to discover them in this museum.

Autrique House

Engineer Eugène Autrique ordered this house in 1893 with his friend Victor Horta. The latter signed for a typical Art Nouveau stronghold: meticulously finished spaces decorated with mosaics, sgraffiti and shaped with organic curves illuminated with an abundance of natural light. As you can imagine already, the mansion is a testimony of pure class. The original resident, an avid map collector, deserves his own room for commemoration.

La Fonderie

Located in a former bronze factory, La Fonderie was once the hub of the nerve centre of Brussels’ industry. In the enriching melting pot Molenbeek – world famous by its own name now and once known as “the Manchester of Belgium” – lies an unfortunately well concealed testimony of a not so distant industrial past. The absolute crown piece is the weaving loom passementerie De Backer, but also “Sultan”, the plaster lion made by Paul Manship, makes this one a must visit. During summer several workshops initiate visitors into the craft of ironwork.  

René Magritte Museum

Even for locals, this one’s still confusing at times: in addition to the Magritte Museum there’s another museum dedicated to the surrealist painting prodigy Brussels is proud to call his own. The René Magritte Museum is located in the Brussels municipality of Jette, where Magritte, famous for green apples and bowler hats, resided for 24 years and had his own studio. 

Museum of the Black Sisters

We understand this Museum of the Black Sisters sounds about as appealing as a pancake party on a Sunday afternoon hosted by your grandmother, but don’t be fooled! First of all, it’s located at a unique location in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The church in Art Deco style is the 5th largest in the world and the top leads to a miraculous (pun intended) overview of Brussels. Secondly, the art itself of course, as it offers a multidisciplinary and wide variety of Flemish paintings, sculptures and objects for daily use from furniture to crockery.