While Brussels is globally known as the hub of European politics, beneath the political veneer lies a city that pulsates with cultural eccentricity and quirkiness. This is beautifully reflected in the city’s diverse range of museums, each more unique than the last. Join us as we delve into eight of Brussels’ most intriguing and offbeat museums that offer a distinctively delightful cultural experience.
1. The Belgian Comic Strip Center
Belgium’s rich comic strip legacy finds a home in the heart of Brussels, at the Belgian Comic Strip Center. The museum, sheltered within the grandeur of a Victor Horta-designed Art Nouveau building, is a visual delight even before you encounter the exhibits. Inside, the museum narrates a love story between Belgium and comics, featuring a fascinating array of comic art, vintage comic books, and interactive displays. Famed Belgian comic characters like Tintin, The Smurfs, and Lucky Luke are celebrated, making it a treat for comic enthusiasts. This museum isn’t just a display; it’s an immersive journey into a world where words and art intertwine, allowing your imagination to soar.
2. The Museum of Fantastic Art
Stepping into the Museum of Fantastic Art is akin to entering a different realm, where fantasy, horror, and art collide. The museum, one of Brussels’ most unconventional cultural offerings, embraces the surreal and the strange. Its collection boasts an array of bizarre sculptures, uncanny creatures, and eerie paintings that seem to draw you into their fantastical world. What sets the museum apart is its calendar of unique events, including the “Fantastic Night.” During this event, the museum transforms into a living nightmare, immersing participants in a blend of interactive theater, live art, and unsettling performances.
3. Museum of Underpants
In a world where museums usually honor the grand and the monumental, the Museum of Underpants celebrates the everyday and the intimate. As its name suggests, this museum is dedicated to underpants, offering a whimsical but intriguing look at this often-overlooked garment. The exhibits are as varied as the people who wear them, with underwear from all corners of the globe. Each item on display tells a personal story, reflecting the wearer’s life and experiences. Far from being merely a collection of underwear, the museum offers a unique perspective on personal narratives, human diversity, and commonalities that bind us together.
4. Museum of Natural Sciences
While perhaps not quirky in the usual sense, the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels hosts an exceptional spectacle – Europe’s largest dinosaur gallery. The museum houses a magnificent collection of thirty iguanodon skeletons, discovered in 1878 in a coal mine in Bernissart, Belgium. These awe-inspiring creatures provide a tangible connection to a past that existed millions of years before us. Additionally, the museum’s interactive exhibits and immersive experiences make this prehistoric journey engaging and educational. The Museum of Natural Sciences is a testament to the wonder of natural history and the enduring allure of the dinosaur era.
5. Musical Instruments Museum
The Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) is a symphony for both the eyes and ears. Nestled in a beautifully restored Art Nouveau building, the MIM houses a staggering collection of over 8,000 musical instruments from various periods and corners of the world. However, what truly sets this museum apart is its innovative use of technology. Each visitor is provided with an infrared headphone system that automatically plays the sound of the instrument they’re viewing. This interactive system offers an immersive musical journey, where you not only observe the instruments but also experience their unique sounds.
6. Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate
A visit to Brussels would be incomplete without indulging in its most beloved treat – chocolate. The Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate provides a deliciously educational dive into the history of Belgian chocolate. Here, you can trace the journey of cocoa from the ancient Mayans to the refined process of artisanal Belgian chocolate-making. The museum also conducts live demonstrations where skilled chocolatiers craft exquisite chocolates, filling the air with irresistible aromas. Of course, visitors get to taste these delectable chocolates, offering a sensory exploration of why Belgian chocolates are revered worldwide.
7. Sewer Museum
Brussels offers you the chance to explore the city from a completely different perspective – its sewers. The Sewer Museum allows visitors to venture beneath the city streets into an extensive network of tunnels. This unique museum shines a light on the city’s complex water and waste management systems, offering insights into an aspect of urban life we often take for granted. A visit to the Sewer Museum is both a fascinating and educational experience, presenting an unusual view of Brussels’ underbelly and the city’s infrastructure history.
8. The Garbage Museum
The Garbage Museum in Brussels aims to transform our perception of waste. It explores the journey of garbage, emphasizing its environmental impact and the importance of waste management. This innovative museum offers interactive exhibits, workshops, and educational games to engage visitors. It explores topics such as recycling, composting, and the circular economy, encouraging visitors to consider their environmental footprint. The Garbage Museum not only educates but also inspires action towards sustainability, reinforcing the idea that everyone has a role to play in protecting our planet.
These offbeat museums invite you to dive deep into the heart of Brussels, uncovering its quirks and idiosyncrasies. From comic strips and dinosaurs to underpants and garbage, the city offers a museum for almost every interest. So, step off the beaten path, venture into the unconventional, and discover the truly unique cultural gems that make Brussels such an eccentric and endearing city.