Leopold de Waelplaats 2
2011 – 2020 (?)
The facades of the KMSKA
The KMSKA has been closed for years due to renovation work. Years ago I followed an art history graduate at the ‘Kunsthistorisch Instituut’. I was lucky that the lessons took place in the museum. There was some confusion from the beginning, since the organization informed me that I could enter from the front. Once I got there, no door was open at the “front.” It turned out that the façade on the Leopold de Waelplaats is the back and the service entrance is the front … It was certainly nice to take three years of classes there. Sometimes we even had a piece of the lesson in the museum rooms themselves. These were normally in the stairwell at the “front” of the museum.
Museum at the South
The building has been here since 1884 – 1890. The district here was a bit deserted and was used for some world exhibitions. The basis of the collection of around 8200 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints comes from the Saint Luke Guild. The guild that united the Antwerp painters had their own party and meeting location that they decorated with works from their members. Later the Academy was founded and it was also furnished by works by Antwerp artists. The French stole various works of art at the end of the 18th century. The works that came back and had no location anymore, were collected in the museum of the Academy in the Mutsaertstraat. In the 19th century these were finally transferred to the new museum. Nice is that I have taken exams in the room where the museum was located in the academy.
The architects of the museum building were Jan Jacob Winders (1849-1936) and Frans Van Dijk (1853-1939). They combined different building styles. At the end of the 19th century this was common and is also called an eclectic style. It looks like a temple, with the big columns and the stairwell.
Various renovations and adjustments had already taken place over time, but always on a smaller scale. Now they are going to do a large-scale intervention, also to make the museum meet the requirements of a contemporary museum. The museum will be considerably expanded: 10 new rooms will be added. And you won’t see all of that from the outside. A new structure is being built in the former patios or interior gardens. The new halls will not be visible from the old and vice versa.
There are also technical installations in the new part, so that more space is created in the old building. At the top there will be a new U-shaped room that will be illuminated with roof domes. But the old halls are also being restored to their full glory. The Rubens room thus regains its original color: red. In the past, the works were spread over different depots in different places in the building. Now one large depot has been made. Here the largest works will be locked up during the restoration. Literally, so that they are in a sort of bunker and do not suffer from the dust and the vibrations of the site works. A new elevator will depart from this depot that will reach all floors, so that the artworks can be brought to their new location more easily.
The master plan for the museum was a design competition and was won by Kaan Architects. This office from Rotterdam consists of a team of architects, urbanists, engineers and graphic designers and is led by Dikkie Scipio, the project architect for the renovation. They want to preserve the museum tour as it was designed in the 19th century as much as possible. Also important in the concept were the public spaces, including the impressive entrance hall that gets a 21st century twist. The total museum goes from 37 halls to 50,. All technical functions will be removed from the plinth of the old building. The experience of the old museum happens in a horizontal sense, while that of the new halls will happen in a vertical sense.
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