The Great Art and Museums of Antwerp



The Arts




I was very impressed by the churches, museums and historic houses of this gem of a Belgian City. I highly recommend buying the Antwerp City Card which allowed me free admission to the museums and churches after paying one fee. You can buy it at the Tourist Office on the main square across from the Cathedral.

Don’t miss:

Onze-LieveVrouwekathedral: This is Antwerp’s main cathedral which has been redone and is really outstanding. There is a wonderful Ruben’s painting, The Descent from the Cross, that is to the right of the altar and not to be missed.

I saw three other churches on my visit. St. Andrieskerk on Waalstraat had a gorgeous altar. I only had a minute in Sint Jacobskerk, at Lange Nieuwstraat 73-75, before it closed but it was beautiful and does have works by Rubens. Sint Pauluskerk, at Veemarkt 1, was also beautiful with a wonderful altar. There are works by Rubens and Van Dyck.

MAS – Museum Aan de Stroom: This new museum is north of the historic center, on the port of Antwerp. Designed by the Dutch architectural firm Neutelings, Riedijk Arthictects, it was chosen from 55 submissions from around the world. It is very contemporary and new and is really interesting to see both inside and outside. The museum had a temporary exhibition on the art of Antwerp, plus there were a number of other exhibitions each on a different floor. One was about Antwerp as an important port city with great artifacts and ship models. There are great views of the city from the observation deck on the 10th floor. There is an excellent restaurant, t Zilte, on the 9th floor. Because of its two Michelin stars, it is important to book ahead.

Museum Plantin-Moretus/Prentenkabinet: On Vrijdagmarkt 22, this is one of the highlights of Antwerp and is not to be missed. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is the printing/publishing house established by Christopher Plantin in 1555. The Moretus family maintained the offices for 300 years. You can see the type setting rooms, the presses, the beautiful libraries, beautiful furnished rooms in the mansion, wonderful art and great examples of the books and prints that they produced.

Rubenhuis: This is a must-see museum on your trip to Antwerp at Wapper 9-11. You can walk through the home of Peter Paul Rubens with gorgeous furnishings and art, see some of his paintings, tour his studio and see the gardens. The hand-painted leather wallpaper in some of the rooms is really exceptional.

The Rockoxhuis: At Keizerstraat 10-12, this is a 17th century home of the former mayor of Antwerp who collected art. He was a patron of Rubens and others so you will see a large number of pieces on display along with some beautiful furnishings. There is also a nice garden in the center.

MoMu: The Antwerp Fashion Museum was closed for an installation when I was there, but check it out when you are in town.

Museum Mayer Van den Bergh: Located at Lange Gasthuisstraat 19, this is a wonderful small museum in the home of an art collector. You will see some wonderful decorative accessories and furnishings in addition to great paintings from the medieval and Renaissance periods. They also have temporary exhibitions. I really enjoyed the engravings by Pieter Bruegel.

FoMu/FotoMuseum: Located south of the historic center at Waalsekaai 47, this is a very excellent museum dedicated to photography. There were three floors of exhibitions which were quite good.

MuHKA/Contemporary Art Museum: On Leuvenstraat 32, this is a contemporary art museum that you might enjoy if you have the time. Check out the current exhibition calendar on their website. The exhibition I saw was interesting but not outstanding.