Support Us

Brussels in 1 day: a slightly alternative version

Are you the one plunking down cross-legged in front of an abstract painting to get hypnotized by the different shades in farfetched compositions? Are you sometimes mistaken for a piece of art yourself after staring hours and hours at a detail in some kind of installation? Performance art is your cup of tea? You prefer graffiti in industrial settings above shopping? Then this walk along some of Brussels’ arts centres and museums no one ever tells you about but which are definitely worth a visit are tailored for you.

This hike crosses Brussels from south to north, or the other way depending on your mood. You’ll have the option between a spicy walk or public transport, since most of these museums are located near metro, bus or train stations. More information about the accessibility of each museum in particular can be found on the separate museum pages.

We start off this day at Forest’s most famous museum since 10 years. What was formerly home to the Wielemans-Ceuppens brewery, is now known as the Contemporary Art Centre WIELS. The Blomme Building (after its brilliant architect) is now fully dedicated to topical art and as an art centre, WIELS, guarantees refreshing and relevant exhibitions that affect everyone. Even if you’re not that much into art, the old copper kettles of the brewery in the industrial, but somehow very bright concrete framework will feel as a delight. Take your time to get in sync with the construction’s arrangement and make sure to visit the rooftop where you get a clear view on how the Brussels’ skyline is shaping up. Feeling hungry after admiring those new-fangled creations? You’ll be pleased to know that Kamilou@WIELS offers refreshing and sustainable dishes from all over the world.

At a stone’s throw from the medieval Halle Gate lays one of the lesser known museums of Brussels, and as you could have expected in case of the art et marges musée museum their obscurity is completely undeserved. As the name suggests, this smaller museum is full of art from the margins, art that missed the flight towards canonization. Although the outsider art therefore finds itself outside the classical circuit, the art et marges musée museum proves that the creative endeavors deserve attention and easily stand their ground amidst the works of recognized artists. Be prepared to be blown away by the sight of the surprising and rebellious collection.

After these two museums with challenging collections, it must be time to let all that creativity sink in. We wouldn’t be brusselsmuseums if we hadn’t a related activity in mind: a visit to Place du Jeu du Balle. This flea market, the epicentre of the Marolles, can easily be mistaken for an open air museum. If you’re into antiques, or just in the mood because of all that artsy stuff behind and ahead of you on this day, this is the place for your bargains. A titbit of history while we’re at it: the French name of this square refers to the period that a traditional ballgame was played at this place. In the adjacent Rue Blaes and Rue Haute a myriad of bars offers a relaxing seat after the hard-fought negotiations with the stallholders.  

Rest is imperative however, because there’s a quite a walk ahead of you. If you prefer to skip it and save some time, we advise going back to Midi railway station, where you can easily hop on some kind of public transport towards MIMA or ARGOS, 2 museums on the north side of Brussels. In one of those sporty moods? Then it’s best to go west from Jeu du Balle until you reach Boulevard Maurice Lemonnier, which ends up in Boulevard Anspach, one of the more famous streets of Brussels’ city centre. You’ll suddenly find yourself next to a building on which quite a lot of people are enjoying the free sunlight on its stairs: La Bourse. Beware barflies: the temptation in this area is real! You’re near the historic Halles Saint-Géry, which is surrounded by cafes. Even if you opt left for Rue Auguste Orts, you’ll quickly become acquainted with the Brussels’ hospitality scene. In Café Le Coq you can have yourself a down to earth beer, while you’ll taste some of most comforting coffee of Brussels at OR Espresso Bar. Further on in Rue Antoine Dansaert the turquoise façade of Brussels’ legendary jazz bar Archiduc will catch your attention, ears and taste buds. It’s this famous street however that you’ll have to follow up onto the canal, where you’ll see the MIMA looming across the water on the left side.     

The Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art, let’s stick to MIMA indeed, celebrates culture 2.0 and contemporary art in the sleek industrial setting of what was once the BelleVue brewery. Expect exciting art at the outskirts of our beloved hellhole Molenbeek, which you’ll get on full display at the museum’s rooftop. Tired? Too bad! The next and final stop is ARGOS – Centre for Art and Media. In case your body doesn’t feel like cooperating anymore, we suggest the tram, which takes you effortlessly from Porte de Ninove (again across the water) to Yser, near Argos. Our final destination is much more than a museum: it’s an institute of expertise in Belgian artists’ film and video. That includes indeed everything related to moving images, but the art centre transcends that easily as it also acts as a media centre to promote and preserve the discipline in Belgium. We hope these 4 institutions appeased somewhat your cultural appetite and if not: there are more than 100 museums accepting the challenge.