Living here, in Brussels, as a holder of Museumpassmusees, I’ve visited quite a few unusual museums, just because they are listed as ‘free entrance’ with it, which I may or may not have otherwise…. You know, buying so many tickets, proves expensive!!!!!! This happened when I was in London too! I visited quite a few chateaus & monuments just because they were included in the English Heritage annual pass!
Garderobe Manneken Pis: Every person who has visited or who will ever visit Brussels, would have/will definitely stop to see the little peeing boy – Manneken Pis! Sometimes he’s n*ked and sometimes he’s clothed. Ever wondered where those clothes are or who makes them or who puts them on the statue??? Well, all these questions are answered at Garderobe Manneken Pis, a museum located a street away from the statue.
Did you know there is an official job called the ‘dresser of Manneken Pis’ that has been in the City of Brussels Archives since 1756? Did you know there is a proper pattern of the outfit with measurements, taking into consideration the posture of the sculpture, that makes it possible to create an outfit in the opposite side of the globe? Did you know that there are more than 1000 costumes, so far, for this little fella???
Brussels City Museum: While we are at it, did you know the sculpture of Manneken Pis is not the real one. The real one is located a few metres away from it, in the Brussels City Museum. Ofcourse, it has all the history of the city of Brussels as well as the gorgeous UNESCO Site where it is located – Grand Place!
There are areas dedicated to stone work, wood work and ceramics of Brussels. Don’t miss the very unique pot bellied ceramic sculptures that actually serve the function of a wine/beer disperser!!!!
La Fonderie: A fascinating industrial history museum. This is divided into 3-4 sections dedicated to various industries of Belgium including textiles; musical instruments; food, dairy & brewery; and metallurgy.
There are also some games for kids to play including their hand in basic carpentry, spanners etc. The huge cotton mill equipment are scattered outside, in the museum’s yard and its possible to have a look at them even without entering the ticketed area. Some equipment there definitely reminded me of my stay in Ghent River Hotel, in a room which had these machinery in them!
Climb the Cinquantenaire Arch: While the Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History is not very unusual, what many don’t know is, the entry into this museum, also give you the ticket to climb atop the Cinquantenaire Arch! Also, the ‘Aircrafts’ section of the museum is just so so so fascinating! I haven’t seen so man aircrafts of so many different types & eras put together in the same place!!!
Coudenberg archaeological site: Once upon a time, the old Royal Palace, towered upon this very site. In 1731, due to an accident, it burnt down. Very recently in 1980s, the excavations were made to convert it into a museum and make it accessible for general public. Today it is a series of underground cellars that give an insight into how the palace would have been centuries ago.
While it can be seen anytime, the best time to see it would be in summer from end of July to beginning of September when the current Royal Palace of Brussels, where the royal family now lives, is open for public to explore. This is free of charge infact. Seeing the old cellars and the current palace back to back would give a very good idea of the history and life of the Belgian Royal family!
Fashion & Lace museum: Belgium and lace go hand in hand. The delicate laces made by the women of Brugge have been world famous. This museum, again located very close to Grand Place, is dedicated to the various lace making techniques of Belgium, its history, its commercial value since ages, amusing facts, and so much more! What was very fascinating was, the way some of the intricate laces were kept under magnifying glass for us to enjoy and marvel the beauty of the artwork!!!
Art & Marges museum, Centrale for Contemporary Art and MiMA museum: These 3 museums are dedicated to modern art and primarily focus only on temporary exhibitions. While I could share pictures of my visit, it may be very different when you visit, as the exhibitions change!
To Get There:
All the museums can be accessed via metro or bus.
Nearest metro & landmark:
Coundenberg: Parc (near Royal Palace, Fine Art & Magritte museums)
Garderobe Manneken Pis, Brussels City Museum, Fashion & Lace Museum: Gare Centrale (near Grand Place, Mannekin Pis statue)
Centrale for Contemporary Art: Saint Catherine (7 min walk from Grand Place)
La Fonderie, MiMA Museum: Comte de Flandre
Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History: Merode (inside Cinquantenaire Park)
Art & Marges Museum: Hallepoort (near Halle Gate, Gare du Midi)
Entry ticket & Timings:
Garderobe Manneken Pis & Brussels City Museum together: €8; Tue-Sun: 10AM to 5PM
La Fonderie: €8; Tue-Fri: 10AM to 5PM; Sat-Sun: 2PM to 5PM
Royal Museum of Armed Forces and Military History: €10 (€5 for climbing the arch alone); Tue-Sun: 10AM to 5PM
Coundenberg Palace: €7; Tue-Fri: 9:30AM to 5PM; Weekends & summer 10AM to 6 PM
Fashion & Lace Museum: €8; Tue -Sun: 10AM to 5PM
Art & Marges Museum: €4; Tue-Sun: 11AM to 6PM
Centrale for Contempoary Art: €8; Wed-Sun: 10:30AM to 6PM
MiMA Museum: €9.5; Wed-Fri: 10AM to 6PM; Weekends: 11AM to 7PM
Ofcourse, as mentioned earlier, all these sites are included in the Museumpassmusees as well as Brussels Card.