Birth of the Museum
It was in 1860 that the idea of creating a museum first started to take shape. The City of Brussels then set about amassing all kinds of objects bearing witness to its past and asked several artists to immortalise those districts destined for demolition. City burgomaster Charles Buls and archivist Alphonse Wauters were behind the project to create the first municipal museum, which was established on the second floor of the King’s House and officially opened in 1887. Charles Buls aimed both to welcome foreign visitors and to make the city’s history intelligible to the local people.
Building-up of the collections
On this spot so redolent with historical and cultural symbolism, the museum curators have been carrying out research and collection work, aimed at extending and improving knowledge and understanding of Brussels’ history since the end of the 19th century. Testimony to this ongoing task are the museum’s varied collections comprising important donations, items found in archaeological excavations and systematic collections of objects and works of art that are representative of the city’s social, economic, intellectual and artistic development and the way the city has evolved from a town-planning point of view.
The Museum today
One of the ways in which the City Museum actively pursues its priority public-service missions, i.e. scientific study, conservation and enrichment of Brussels’ heritage and the showcasing of this heritage to best advantage for the benefit of the general public, is by staging temporary exhibitions in the main hall on the top floor, aimed at creating links between the past and our present.
On the ground floor the City of Brussels Museum presents an overview of Brussels’ arts: sculptures and monuments from sites and places of interest in Brussels dating from the 13th to the 19th century, pewterware and earthenware, silverware and pieces of porcelain, not to mention tapestries from the 16th to the 18th century and altarpieces (15th to 16th century).
The first floor is given over to the area covered by the City, its relief, the Grand-Place, the green spaces, the importance of water and the various town-planning programmes, which are all depicted and explained on the basis of various documents.
Finally, the top floor houses the fabulous wardrobe of Manneken-Pis and the temporary exhibitions.