As with my series of “bookshops” posts (Paris, Brussels, London), I thought it was also the time to conclude my series of “quirky museums” posts (see my previous posts “3 Quirky Museums of Paris” and “3 Quirky Museums of London“). I think Brussels is the city to go if you love museums, and there are some 80 museums in the city to choose from. The city frequently hosts Museum Night Fevers and Brussels Museums Nocturnes (when museums are open until 10 p.m.), and it is also good to know that, while there are both paid and free museums, the majority of the prominent ones are free the first Wednesday (or Sunday) afternoon of every month. Whether you are a fan of Belgian surrealism (Magritte Museum) or the comic strip (Belgian Comic Strip Center), want to know more about dinosaurs (Museum of Natural Sciences), or interested in Brussels’ history (Brussels City Musuem) or its beer (Beer Museum), there is a museum for every taste and interest.
I. Museum of Musical Instruments
This very central museum is in a stunning Art Nouveau-style building and boasts some magnificent views as seen from its top floor. This unique three-floor museum is a host to some 7000 musical instruments that come from different historical periods and continents. From familiar musical instruments to some very exotic musical objects, the museum is bound to surprise, and the great thing about it is that the visitor experience will be interactive: through an audio-guide/headphones provided, one can actually listen how some of the instruments on display sound like or sounded like. Overall, this museum is a great place to go for those interested in music (who isn’t?) and would like to find more about the diversity of musical instruments, and the history of music. There is also a shop on the premises that sells music-related gifts and souvenirs.
II. Horta Museum
This museum showcases the private house and studio of Victor Horta (1861-1947), a Belgian architect and designer who worked in, as well as helped to invent and promote, the style of Art Nouveau. The two Art Nouveau-style buildings are curious architectural examples, and much has been preserved inside to show how the rooms must have looked like when Horta was alive. The façade, the staircase and the ceiling, that may be creating an optical illusion, are probably the highlights of the trip. This is a must-see place for those interested in design and architecture, and will also delight those who want to experience architectural weirdness and see some unusual decors.
III. Choco-Story (Brussels)
What trip to Brussels can avoid chocolate? This museum moved to a new location sometime last year, but it still provides more or less the same experience of learning about chocolate (its history and making), and, of course, tasting it! The museum is interactive, and there is much to learn about chocolate, though the highlight of the visit would probably be the workshop during which chocolate-making can be seen in operation. Neuhaus and Godiva in Brussels are some of the places to visit to buy luxurious chocolate treats.
Other curious museums that Brussels has to offer include the Crossbow Guild Museum, the Museum of Original Figurines (MOOF), the Belgian Museum of Freemasonry and the Clockarium.