Antwerp is a city filled to the brim with history. It’s no surprise that there are plenty of fantastic museums in the city; many dealing with the city itself, some on a broader historical or cultural scale. Whatever your interests, there’s a museum for you, and we’ve put together a list of our favourites.
The Plantin-Moretus Museum is dedicated to the history of printing, and specifically to Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus. Housed in their former residence and press, it’s a striking reminder of how intricate printing used to be. Plantin Press was one of the focal points of the printed book in the 16th century, so it’s not surprising that the library houses a substantial number of fine works. Between the workshops, the tours of the living spaces, and the walled garden, this museum has a surprising amount to offer.
Opening Hours: 10am-5pm daily
Watch out for: The rare 36-line bible
Vrijdagmarkt 22-23, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 221 14 50
Peter Paul Rubens was a famous Flemish painter with an extravagant Baroque style. Rubenshuis is his former home and studio, and has since been converted into a museum. The Rubenianum is in a building at the back of the garden, a centre dedicated to the study of his works. The house is vast, with a courtyard, patio, an art room where Rubens housed his collection, and a studio workspace where Rubens created most of his art.
Opening Hours: 10am-5pm Tue-Sun
Watch out for: The self-portrait in the dining room
Wapper 9-11, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 201 15 55
Museum aan de Stroom is a recently opened museum, and by far the largest in Antwerp. It covers the city’s Metropolis, Power, Life and Death, and Antwerp’s history as a port city. A colossal structure by the river, it’s five floors of sandstone looks like a tower of building blocks from a distance. A nice, modern touch is that the exhibits feature QR codes on the wall labels, displaying information in five languages.
Opening Hours: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun 10am-6pm
Watch out for: The Metropolis floor
The Vleeshuis is a five hundred year old guild hall in the Gothic style. Vleehuis used to house the Butcher’s guild, and acted as a central meat market. Unusually, the current museum has nothing to do with the building’s history, instead being a collection of musical instruments. Detailing the story of minstrels, and choirs up to more modern concerts and dance, it pays for the entrance fee in sheer novelty alone, with the Aida trumpets and antique instruments being of particular note.
Opening Hours: Tue, Thu-Sun 10am-5pm
Watch out for: Mattau’s glass harp
Vleeshouwersstraat 38, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 292 61 00
This contemporary art museum is the ideal place to visit on a sunny day. The open-air museum is populated by over 200 sculptures across 30 hectares of park. At the centre of this park sits Middelheim Castle, a renovated mansion which now includes a reception, a café, and a museum shop. The Braem Pavilion is a small, covered area within the park where fragile works are displayed, so be sure not to miss it. The rotation of works changes twice a year, making it ideal for repeat visits.
Opening Hours: Vary by season
Watch out for: Giacomo Manzu’s The Cardinal
Middelheimlaan 61, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 288 33 60
MoMu houses a strong collection of couture, as well as historical pieces of clothing, focusing on Belgian style. Every six months, MoMu puts together a new exhibition, combining loan pieces with items from their own substantial collection. Generally, these focus on a specific designer or theme, and are real treats for anyone interested in fashion. Belgium may not be well-known as a fashion hotspot, but this has changed in recent years, with several designers du jour coming out of Antwerp itself.
Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm
Watch out for: The ever-changing exhibitions
Nationalestraat 28, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 470 27 70