I found the most underrated city in Europe
There are some things to question about the renovation. In my opinion, arranging images by theme rather than chronological order is likely to confuse rather than enlighten visitors. In fact, I wonder how long this particular blockage will last. But there is also a lot of fun and invention. Giant sculptures gleaned from the details of the paintings – such as the huge spinning hand in Gallery 2.12 – aim to interest children, but many adults I’m sure will be amused as well. And I enjoyed a boozy tavern scene by Adriaan van Ostade that was deliberately hung with a drunken slant.
While KMSKA will now reclaim its status as Antwerp’s artistic magnet, the city’s other major cultural sites are as vibrant as ever. The Rubens House (rubenshuis.be/fr) which the artist bought in 1610 on his return from Rome and then transformed into a Renaissance palace, is a place of pilgrimage for his fans.
And there are two fabulous art museums housed in the former residences of the city’s greatest collectors. The Rockox House (snijdersrockoxhuis.be/en) was the home of Nicolaas Rockox, one of Rubens’ friends and patrons and mayor of Antwerp at the beginning of the 17th century. Its collection is paired with a museum devoted to the Golden Age painter Frans Snijders. And the Mayer van den Bergh Museum (mayervandenbergh.be) has a superb collection of Northern Renaissance art, including paintings by Brueghel and Gossaert.
Meanwhile, the Plantin-Moretus Museum (museumplantinmoretus.be) is a remarkable throwback to the mid-16th century, when it was one of Europe’s great printing houses. It still has an exceptional collection of books, engravings, maps, presses and paintings.
So while Antwerp’s golden age as a melting pot of artistic creativity may be long gone, as a destination for art lovers, with the reopening of KMSKA it is back to his favorite.