The idea to create a Museum of Fine Arts was originally launched in 1911 by Jules Destrée (1863-1936), to preserve the works of Navez.

As long ago as 1889, the first piece, a bust of François-Joseph Navez by Jean Hérain (Louvain, 1853-Brussels, 1924) was donated to the City, marking the start of a process of collecting and conservation.

Sixty works were acquired between 1889 and 1936, when the Museum’s galleries were inaugurated in the superb Art Deco City Hall, where it is located. Some remarkable artists, of the calibre of Pierre Paulus, François-Joseph Navez, Alexandre-Louis Martin, Joseph François and Fernand Verhaegen formed the nucleus of a collection which has constantly grown.

The first curator, Fernand André (Dampremy, 1904-1973) developed the acquisition policy. Very soon after the Museum was founded, the Belgian State would on the one hand subsidise part of the purchases and on the other, deposit works, thereby expanding the scope of the collections. Such works, accessible only on request, would lie dormant until 18 September 1980, when the Museum really opened to the public.

The Museum is home to some works which, from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th, cover the major artistic movements which emerged in Belgium, and these form the first arm of our collections.

For several years now, the Museum has also been incorporating contemporary creative works, seeing its mission as being a major player in the 21st century. We have redesigned our museum policy so as to respond today to an objective of openness, dynamism and social involvement.

Illustrations : Vues du Musée des Beaux-Arts(c) MBArts

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