The imposing KMSKA building in neo-Renaissance style on the Zuid dates from 1890. By the beginning of this century the museum no longer possessed sufficient space to display its collection, the roof leaked and the climatisation system didn’t work properly. In 2011 the museum closed. All works were removed and renovation work could start.
Much of the exterior has remained the same but under plans from Dutch architects KAAN a new high-rise building has been inserted into the old one where works from the collection dating after 1890 will be displayed.
The original rooms have been restored to their former glory to show off the works of Rubens, Van Eyck and Memling.
The works did drag on for longer than most people expected, but as so often happens during the renovation of an old building new difficulties surfaced as the works progressed.
The original budget of 44 million euros ballooned to over 100 million but given the size of the museum, 21,000 square metres, the price tag isn’t judged to be exorbitant by international comparison.
The closure allowed Antwerp to lend many works to other museums. Other works were restored.
The KMSKA possesses over 6,500 works of art including Ensors, Modiglianis and Permekes, Van Eycks, Memlings and Van der Weydens but also Alechinskys. A tenth of the collection will now go on show.
To see what the architects and builders have made of the building you will have to visit for yourself. KMSKA expects 300,000 visitors this year. It’s best to book online. Over 26s pay 20 euros. Under 18s get in for free, while 18-to 25-year-olds pay 10 euros.