From art and music to chocolate and beer, we explore the most popular museums in Brussels that are guaranteed to satisfy all tastes.
As fun as it may be, there’s far more to do in Brussels than simply gorge on moules frites. The city is filled with fantastic museums that center on everything from art and music to chocolate and beer. So why not put down your cutlery and visit one of these great attractions in the nation’s capital?
Not only is Atomium the most striking architectural landmark in Brussels, but it is also the city’s most visited museum. The futuristic structure, which resembles an iron crystal consisting of nine atoms, was originally built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. However, today it houses several permanent and temporary exhibits; showcasing archived documents, photographs, and videos from 1958 to the present day. Each year, around 600,000 visitors come to explore the atoms and enjoy the 360-degree panoramic view from the highest point.
Atomium, Atomium Square Laeken, Brussels 1020
Musée Magritte Museum
Located on the Place Royale in the heart of Brussels, the Musée Magritte Museum boasts the world’s largest collection of work by renowned Belgian Surrealist artist René Magritte. More than 300,000 visitors come each year to explore more than 230 works of art on display; including paintings, gouaches, drawings, sculptures, and painted objects. The award-winning museum also displays posters, musical scores, photographs, and films shot by Magritte himself. Furthermore, it houses temporary exhibitions on other artists such as Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí. Essentially, this is an absolute must-visit for anyone who is passionate about art.
Musée Magritte Museum, Place Royale 1, Brussels 1000
Musical Instruments Museum (MIM)
Housed within a luxurious 19th-century department store, MIM is internationally renowned for its extraordinary collection of over 8,000 instruments; including the oldest saxophone in the world. Once inside, visitors can embark on a tour of the musical world; listening to almost 200 musical extracts of the instruments on display via infrared headphones. During the tour, they can also learn about the history of each instrument as well as Belgian musical history; including the country’s important role in making recorders and proto-synthesizers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Make sure to look out for the unique set of giant Chinese stone chimes while you’re there!
Musical Instruments Museum, Rue Montagne de la Cour 2, Brussels 1000
Calling all chocolate lovers! If you have a serious sweet tooth, a visit to this mouth-watering museum is a definite must. Belgium is famous for its delicious chocolate and visitors to Choco-Story can gain a glimpse into its history. The museum invites guests to travel back in time and discover the origin of chocolate and how it came to be loved around the world today. The tour begins by sharing the history of the Aztecs and Mayans who cultivated cocoa trees thousands of years ago. Through posters, videos, and explanatory panels, chocolate lovers can then learn about how it is made today. Along the way, they can also watch a master chocolate maker make pralines by hand and discover numerous sculptures made entirely out of chocolate. But don’t worry, you will get to sample the good stuff too during tasting sessions and one-hour workshops.
Choco-Story Brussels, Rue de l’Etuve 41, Brussels 1000
The Belgian Comic Strip Center
The Smurfs and Tintin are just a few of the beloved Belgian cartoon characters which are on display at this colourful museum. Located inside a beautiful Victor Horta Art Nouveau building, the Belgian Comic Strip Center highlights the history of illustrated storytelling; from cave paintings and tapestries to political cartoons and comic books. Visitors can discover original drawings of famous characters, have their photos taken with Tintin and Asterix, and browse the encyclopaedic collection of comics for sale in the Slumberland gift shop. And if they get hungry, they can always stop for a bite to eat at the restaurant on the ground floor.
The Belgian Comic Strip Center, Rue des Sables 20, Brussels 1000
The BELvue is the number-one museum for learning about Belgium and its stirring past. Located in a magnificent 18th-century building adjoining the Royal Palace, the museum guides visitors through more than a century of Belgian history. There are seven exhibition rooms to explore, each showcasing a different aspect of the country’s past; told through a combination of remarkable film fragments, striking pictures, and period documents. The connecting hallways also display a timeline and over 200 objects with information about each one; including a lithograph by Magritte and a football signed by the Belgian national football team the Red Devils. Visitors can take an audio tour or use their smartphones to connect to an app that guides them through the museum. And if they’re feeling hungry, Les Filles restaurant serves a variety of local and organic food.
BELvue Museum, Place des Palais 7, Brussels 1000
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
Located within a magnificent neo-classical building in the heart of Brussels, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts is considered to be one of the greatest museums in the city. It actually consists of four main museums; the Museum of Ancient Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Constantin Meunier Museum, and the Antoine Wiertz Museum. Within the building’s walls, visitors can discover over 20,000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings that date back from the early 15th century to the present day. Among the collection are a number of masterpieces by Peter Bruegel; as well as works by other Belgian masters including Paul Rubens, Henry Moore, René Magritte, and many more.
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Rue de la Régence Place Royale 1, Brussels 1000
Belgian Brewers Museum
No list of museums in Brussels would be complete without mentioning Belgium’s favourite beverage – beer. Located right in the heart of Brussels on the Grote Markt, the Belgian Brewers Museum is a fantastic place to visit if you appreciate a good brew. Visitors can take a glimpse at days gone by and see how beer was made in an 18th-century brewery. Various implements, brewing and fermentation tubs, and other materials can be found on display here. Inside the museum’s cozy café, guests will also discover old tankards, antique porcelain, and other objects found in traditional inns. Of course, no visit to a brewery would be complete without sipping on a nice, cold beer. And thankfully, the Belgian brewers will gladly offer visitors a glass of delicious brew at the end of their visit.
Belgian Brewers Museum, Grote Markt 10, Brussels 1000