Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp
KAAN Architecten 

Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp

KAAN Architecten 


The now controversial Leopold II personally backed an ambitious urbanistic program to improve the quality of life in Belgian cities and promote a cultural awakening, and a fruit of the efforts of the Roi bâtisseur is the monumental building that went up in the heart of Antwerp’s Haussmannian grid to house the Royal Museum of Fine Arts. Opened to the public in 1890, its collection – which goes back to the rich possessions of the Guild of Saint Luke – was arranged in a chain of halls endowed with overhead lighting and large windows overlooking the city, an enfilade eventually blurred by a succession of renovations.

Within a thorough makeover, an enlargement is hidden in the inner courtyards in order to keep attention on the preexisting structure. Striking a contrast with the restored scheme of 19th-century galleries – where the selected palette of materials and colors emphasizes the edifice’s neoclassical grandeur – are new exhibition spaces with bright white surfaces and triangular skylights, resulting in a reciprocal relationship between contemporary and traditional...[+]