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11 must-see exhibitions in 2024

Cover picture Magritte Folon exhibition - Magritte Museum  2024
Credit : Jean-Michel Folon, Le rêve éveillé, (1971) Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Bruxelles / photo : J. Geleyns - Art Photography
Mathilde Oechsner

The museums in Brussels are preparing a year rich in emotion and poetry, with some great art exhibitions, but that’s not all.

Surrealism is 100 years old! 

In 1924, French poet and writer André Breton published the Manifesto of Surrealism, launching a major, multi-faceted artistic movement. With Histoire de ne pas rire. Surrealism in Belgium, Bozar takes us back over 60 years of Belgian surrealism, which also began in 1924 with the pamphlets of the poet Paul Nougé. The exhibition gives pride of place to women artists such as Jane Graverol and Rachel Baes. There are also works by René Magritte, Paul Delvaux, Max Ernst, Marcel Mariën and Salvador Dalí.

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are offering us the chance to broaden our perspective with IMAGINE! 100 years of international surrealism, an exhibition organised in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which will then travel to Germany, Spain, and the United States. In Brussels, the exhibition immerses us in Surrealist poetry, with a particular focus on showing the links, but also the differences, between Surrealism and its precursor movement, which was incredibly fertile in the capital: Symbolism. Over 130 works (paintings, works on paper, sculptures, and objects) are on show. 

Folon in all his glory

While you’re submerged in poetry, pass by the Magritte Museum, which puts the master of Belgian surrealism in dialogue with the works of the humanist Jean-Michel Folon. The two men have never met, yet the connections between their artistic worlds are undeniable. Magritte·Folon brings together the works of these two major artists, and it’s quite the poetry in itself.

Have you become a Folon fan? With Folon unseen, the Maison Autrique is tackling the lesser-known side of the artist. In its magnificent Art Nouveau-style spaces, the exhibition showcases around a hundred works and objects collected by Folon, testifying to his immense creativity. Folon also worked for more than 30 years with the Italian company Olivetti, known among other things for its typewriters. Find posters, advertising products and cartoons produced by the artist at Olivetti·Folon.

Tribute to James Ensor

2024 also marks the 75th anniversary of the death of the painter James Ensor. In the exhibition James Ensor. Inspired by Brussels, the KBR shows us how the capital influenced Ensor’s poetic language. The paintings and graphic works are on show in the palace of Charles de Lorraine. Would you like to discover all the facets of Ensor? Bozar is presenting around a hundred works, including some lesser-known ones such as graphic creations and musical compositions in the exhibition James Ensor. Maestro.

Long live Art Nouveau!

2023 was the year of Art Nouveau, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t (re)discover Brussels’ treasures this year! The Art and History Museum invites you to immerse yourself in the interiors of the Palais Stoclet, a major work by Josef Hoffmann, between 1911 and 1918, thanks to an exhibition and a virtual reconstruction. The Halles Saint-Géry invites you to take part in a participatory, multidisciplinary experience on the theme of Art nouveau: art for all? which allows visitors to reappropriate objects and subject from the art nouveau houses museums. 

Women designers in the spotlight

At Design Museum Brussels, the spotlight is on women designers of past and present. Often overlooked, they have nevertheless played an important role in design. Here We Are! Women in Design 1900-Today presents furniture, ceramics, fashion, and graphic objects, all designed by women.

Tracing the origins of collections

The AfricaMuseum is looking at the collections and their provenance, in the context of the restitution of the works. How can the origins of collections be traced? ReThinking Collections aims to show the challenges and multiple approaches involved in this research by presenting a wide variety of the museum’s collections and exploring new perspectives for the future of colonial collections.

Here is a modest selection from the rich offer of our museums. To find more gems and artistic activities, take a look at our agenda. And if you’d like to receive regular updates from Brussels Museums, subscribe to our newsletter.

Exhibitions overview in this article

02.01 > 14.04 Stoclet 1911 – Restitution – Art & History Museum

06.01 > 14.04 ART NOUVEAU, art for all? – Halles Saint-Géry

19.01 > 29.09 ReThinking Collections – AfricaMuseum

21.02 > 21.07 IMAGINE! 100 years of international surrealism – Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium

21.02 > 16.06 Histoire de ne pas rire. Surrealism in Belgium – Bozar

21.02 > 21.07 Magritte·Folon – Magritte Museum

22.02 > 02.06 James Ensor. Inspired by Brussels - KBR

29.02 > 23.06 James Ensor. Maestro – Bozar

20.03 > 29.09 Folon unseen – Maison Autrique

10.04 > 15.09 Olivetti·Folon – Design Museum Brussels

16.10 > 09.03.25 Here We Are! Women in Design 1900 – Today – Design Museum Brussels