My 8-year old daughter has been wearing her bowler hat for days now — and the color is not pink and it also has nothing to do with Hannah Montana.
Instead it is a plastic replica of a black, hard felt hat with a rounded crown. It also happens to be a memento from one of the world’s most anticipated museum openings slated for this year: The Magritte Museum located in the heart of Brussels, Belgium on the Place Royal.
Hats off to the educational team here because the museum really is more than just a museum for kids — just like the famous surrealist Rene Magritte would have liked it.
Folks came in thousands and from all corners of the globe to attend the museums pre-opening festivities. With over 200 works including Magritte’s masterpieces such as two versions of “The Empire of Lights” (1954) and (1961) — and “The Return” (1940) — the city’s most famous artist has loads in store to share with guests. Overall the museum is like the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice meets the Fundacio Joan Miro (Miro Museum) in Barcelona without their fantastic rooftop accessibility — yet.
However what sets this museum aside from many of its European counterparts is what’s in store for the kids. And, if the museums pre-opening day offers any indication what’s in store for the little ones — this place is a winner. The day’s festivities included: puppet, theatre and dance shows, several children’s arts and crafts booths as well interactive artwork with living models, plastic bowler hats for all the little and even big guests to wear, loads of entertainment and more. The setting was a surrealist street party like no other in the world. (You can listen to children’s testimonials by Urban Crayon Press here.)
“Oh, I really enjoyed the puppet show. It was funny and we learned all about Magritte,” said 8-year-old Caitlin O’Regan, who hails from the United Kingdom.
“I really liked the arts-and-craft table where we made mini-portraits of Magritte’s paintings. But my real favorite thing to do today was to walk around and try to find out who is real or not real. It’s really fun.” said 7-year old Alexander Becker.
“Well, nothing is quite as it seems here, so it makes everything really fun”, said 8-year old Hannah Berz whose parents are a combination team of American, German and Swiss passport holders.
The museum already has been billed as an “amusement-park fun house” on the most sophisticated level (Price tag: $9.2 million). Yet this term more than likely applies to the museum’s walls which are painted incredibly dark whereas leaving the artwork to feel like the pieces are “coming out of the night”. At least this is the kid’s version.
“Everything inside the museum is dark, but all the paintings are really bright and beautiful” states 7-year old Schuyler Wolf who hails from the United States and was accompanied by her 4-year old brother, Charles.
Our fun for the day initially started by counting the number of windows filled with cloud patterns which were strategically placed in all the outside buildings facing the museum. It’s a permanent display made specifically for the museum. There are so many cloud painted windows we had to give up counting. “They are so beautiful and so many windows. I can’t keep count” stated 8-year-old Wiley Becker.
“We have several activities planned for children throughout the year. The programs are quite similar like today’s event and even more so. It’s great to see how the children really enjoy all the programs on offer today” states Isabelle Vanhoonacker, Director of Education for the Magritte Museum.
Whatever way you look at it, Magritte’s work is enjoyable for kids and adults alike: Intriguing, interesting and colorful for the kids, yet great art for the parents to enjoy with or without a bowler hat on your head as a souvenir.
Tuesdays to Sundays: 9.30 a.m. – 5 p. m; Wednesdays 9:30 a.m.. – 8 p.m.
Place Royale, 1 – 1000 Brussels
+32 2 508 31 11
Every Sunday art workshops are held for children of all ages.
Dutch, English and French (More languages added over summer holidays)
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
No reservation necessary. All-day summer program will be held July 8, 9 and 10. Reservations mandatory.
Not to be missed while in town
Franco Dragone, the worlds most spectacular Showmaker, creator of such hits as: Disney Cinema Parade, Celine Dion's show, A New Day ... and the aquatic show Le Reve in Las Vegas will produce Kdo!
December 22 – January 3, 2010
Tickets and seating limited. Click for details.