Culture, Couture and Commemorations in Belgium’s ‘Capital of Cool’
As the Special Olympics European Summer Games draws to a close in its host city of Antwerp tomorrow, I take a look at other upcoming events taking place in this diverse and dynamic Belgian city, perfect for a short city break both alongside Brussels or indeed in its own right.
Red Star Line Museum
One of Antwerp’s newest cultural attractions and about to celebrate its first anniversary, the Red Star Line Museum opened its doors in September 2013 and tells the story of two million men, women and children who, between 1873 and 1934, departed Belgium’s shores and took to the seas aboard the Red Star Line ocean steamers in search of a fresh start in the New World across the other side of the Atlantic. Situated in the former harbour sheds of the Red Star Line shipping company, the museum offers a fascinating insight into the history of migration, what they left behind in Belgium and what awaited them on the other side of the pond.
If fashion’s your thing, head over to the Mode Museum, known colloquially as ‘MoMu‘, for its upcoming exhibition entitled ‘ MoMu Now: Contemporary Fashion from the MoMu collection’. Showcasing its most recent acquisitions, predominantly made up of pieces by contemporary Belgian designers, the collection consists of some 25,000 items of clothing and accessories, 7,000 of which have been added over the past five year thanks to a wealth of donations, purchases and long-term loans. The new collection is unveiled from 25 September and is available to view until 4 January, 2015.
World War I Commemorations
Antwerp played a prominent role in the early days of the Great War for it briefly became the temporary capital of Belgium and home to the Belgian government, parliament, armed forces, royal family and diplomatic service before falling to the Germans. Joining forces with over 50 Belgian and international partners, the city of Antwerp is putting on a thought-provoking cultural programme designed to focus on the human aspect of the First World War. Over the weekend of 3 – 5 October, the Belgian and Dutch armies will build a temporary pontoon over the River Scheldt, symbolising the moment in history when the bridge represented an escape route for both the military and civilians when the city fell. There will also be a number of art exhibitions taking place across Antwerp’s major museums, lectures and walking tours.
Modeste Beer Festival
Taking place over the weekend of 4 – 5 October, Antwerp’s Beer College and the Brewery De Koninck plays host to the third annual Modeste Beer Festival, paying tribute to Modeste Van den Bogaert, who ran the brewery for over 50 years. The festival is a small but select affair, with just 30 local brewers in attendance introducing their beers to the public and offering the opportunity for a tasting.