The History Of The Royal Museums Of Fine Arts In 1 Minute

The majestic forum of the RMFAB | © Daniel Piaggio Strandlund & Ilan Weiss/Courtesy of the RMFAB
The majestic forum of the RMFAB | © Daniel Piaggio Strandlund & Ilan Weiss/Courtesy of the RMFAB
With four buildings dotted throughout the city and a collection of over 20,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures, the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium certainly has its bases covered. Founded over two centuries ago, the museum group – housing everything from the Flemish Primitives to the biggest Magritte collection in the world – continues to make a name for itself on the international scene with a fierce commitment to constant growth and innovation.

Six separate museums, four splendid Brussels locations, and the biggest art collection in all of the land. Discovering all the nooks and crannies of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts – or simply the RMFAB – might well take a weekend’s time. Yet true history buffs looking for an extensive overview of Belgian fine art will find no place better suited to their needs.

The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium © Philippe van Gelooven, courtesy of RMFAB

The Old Masters Museum, founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801, boasts important works by the painter gods of the Lower Countries such as Memling, Van Dyck, Bosch and Bruegel the Elder. Inside the impressive Peter Paul Rubens room, the characters of the artist’s larger-than-life paintings look down upon their tiny spectators.

Occupying the same regal setting as the Old Masters – a beautiful pillared building on the corner of Place Royale and the Rue de la Régence – individuals will find the Modern Museum and Fin de Siècle Museum. Art Nouveau fans were delighted at the birth of the latter only three years ago, as it is filled with objects in the style that originated and bloomed in the capital at the end of the 19th century.

Sitting right next to the main building and facing the constitutional court is the almost equally majestic Magritte Museum, one of three in the collective dedicated to individual giants of Belgian culture. And while the art houses in the Ixelles neighborhood pay tribute to the Romantic Antoine Wiertz and the Realist Constantin Meunier in many thoughtful ways, the ever-evolving and expanding character of the Royal Museums is best exemplified by this new temple of surrealism. With some 200 original René Magritte paintings on display, the new addition has proven a magnet to art lovers from all around the globe since it opened its doors in 2009.

📅 Old Master Museum, Modern Museum, Fin de Siècle Museum and Magritte Museum: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm and Sat-Sun 11am-6pm.

Wiertz Museum and Meunier Museum: Tue-Fri 10am-12pm and 12:45pm-5pm