Brussels’ best contemporary art hotspots

Brussels’ best contemporary art hotspots

Heralded as the “new Berlin” by the New York Times, Brussels has become a hub of contemporary art. Artists from all over the world, fans and international collectors flock to the Belgian capital.

Nestled in the heart of Europe, Brussels is blessed with hundreds of museums, more than 200 galleries and some major contemporary art events - Art Brussels, Brussels Gallery Weekend and Independent art fair.

But which so much going on, and so much to see, how can you fit it all in? Don’t panic. To help you make your way through the capital, we have put together a selection of Brussels’ hotspots for taking in some of the best contemporary art each neighbourhood has to offer.

 

  • Southern Brussels

    Around Wiels 

    For fans of contemporary art, the Wiels is a must, with its stunning exhibitions in the incredible setting of a n old brewery, which offers a magnificent panoramic view of the capital. 
    Nearby you’ll find the BRASS, the Barzilaï-Hollander collection and Clearing. This rapidly evolving neighbourhood, just outside of the city’s historical centre, is well worth a visit and is a future hub in the making!

    Things to see

    Clearing: Clearing is a gallery based in New York and Brussels. It represents international artists such as Sebastian Black, Ryan Foerster, Marina Pinsky and Lili Reynaud-Dewar, along with Belgian artists Koenraad Dedobbeleer and Harold Ancart. Its industrial setting is worth a visit!

    Shopping   

    BautierThe Marina Bautier boutique is a little haven where you will discover the Brussels designer’s exclusive creations, along with accessories and a selection of exclusive magazines in Brussels

    Where to eat  

    • La Guinguette du parc de Forest: La Guinguette du parc de Forest is the perfect place for a relaxing break, an aperitif or lunch with a view of the city. In the summer, La Guingette stays open until sundown.
    • La Boule d’OrLa Boule d’Or is a charming little brasserie, with a colourful terrace, only a stone’s throw from Forest park
  • Around Komplot 

    Komplot is a collective of curators created in 2002, with the members changing over time. This nomadic collective has occupied various locations in the capital before deciding to set up shop on Chaussée de Forest. The venue welcomes emerging international artists.

    Where to eat

    • Crab Club: The Crab Club offers deliciously prepared seafood dishes to be shared with friends.
    • Brasserie Verschueren: Brasserie Verschueren is a typical café located on one of Brussels’ trendiest squares.
  • Around La Loge 

    La Loge is a space dedicated to contemporary art, architecture and theory. It offers impressive and critical exhibitions, which reference the cultural issues of today. La Loge is located a stone’s throw from Place Flagey and its numerous bars and restaurants that are so popular with students and expats.

    Things to see  

    • Fondation CAB: Fondation CAB is a private centre dedicated to minimalist contemporary art. Set in an old Art Deco warehouse, it organises two major events every year with the help of a museum curator or a Belgian or international gallery.   
    • Galerie Nathalie Obadia: The Nathalie Obadia gallery is the Brussels satelitte of the famous Parisian gallery that promotes the work of artists such as Martin Barré, Pascal Pinaud and Carole Benzaken.

    Shopping  

    Réservoir store: Réservoir is an unmissable shop for sneakers, jeans and other trendy accessories.

    Where to eat  

    Humus x Hortense: Humus x Hortense is the perfect combination of an original setting, quality cooking and divine cocktails.

  • Around the Fondation Boghossian - Villa Empain 

    The Villa Empain - a jewel of Art Deco architecture - houses the Boghossian Foundation, an art centre that promotes dialogue between the cultures of the Orient and the Occident. It offers a rich and varied programme of performances, conferences, festive events, international meetings, guided tours and activities for children. It is located on the long and elegant Avenue Roosevelt, not far from the university campus and student neighbourhood.

    Things to see  

    Bois de la Cambre: Ducks swim in its ponds, and cyclists descend upon this calm and quiet wooded setting, which feels far from the hustle and bustle of the city.

    Where to eat  

    Chalet Robinson: Chalet Robinson is a typical brasserie in a unique setting. It lies on a little island in the Bois de la Cambre and can only be reached by barge!

  • City centre

    Around BOZAR

    BOZAR is a magnificent, multi-disciplinary Art Nouveau venue designed by Victor Horta. It is ideally located in the Mont des Arts neighbourhood, next to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Concerts, exhibitions, installations, performances... there’s always something to see or do at BOZAR.

    Things to see  

    • The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium: The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium are (almost) 4 museums under one roof! The building houses the Oldmasters Museum, the Magritte Museum and the Fin de Siècle Museum. Alongside the impressive permanent collections, famous contemporary artists are often invited to strike up a dialogue between their pieces and the masterpieces of the Old Masters. . 
    • Brussels Park: With its large paths that lead to the Royal Palace, Brussels Park is the city centre’s largest park. This large green space is ideal for a relaxing break in nature for all those who enjoying strolling along its paths, going for a run or having a drink at its open-air “guinguette” café. 

    Shopping 

    • Les Brusselois(e)s: The aptly named Les Brusseloi(e)s offer, in their charming boutique, a selection of products by Belgian and Brussels creators.
    • Quelcirque : Quelcirque is a little gem! They have a superb selection of artisan ceramics, kitchen utensils and bath accessories from Europe and Japan.
    • Bozar bookshop: BOZAR bookshop, nestled in the BOZAR, offers a large choice of beautiful art books in several languages, along with lots of original objects which are perfect as gifts!

    Where to eat 

    • Chez Richard: At Chez Richard you can enjoy the refined interior and the chic sun-drenched terrace in the heart of the Sablon antiques and chocolatiers district.
    • Aux Bons Enfants: There’s a new name for luxury chips in Brussels: Aux Bons Enfants. The chips are made following the traditional recipe and their croquettes are homemade!
  • Around MIMA

    Time to pop over to the commune of Molenbeek. The MIMA is housed in the remarkable old buildings of the Belle-Vue brewery, on the banks of Brussels’ canal. This young, but already internationally renowned museum is dedicated to contemporary creation and is accessible and viral. It also offers a boutique and a canteen. It really is an unmissable spot for fans of urban culture, street art, industrial architecture and local gastronomy.

    Things to see

    • La Raffinerie – Charleroi danse: This former 20th century sugar refinery, with its brick walls and steel and iron skeleton, hosts the Brussels satellite of Charleroi Danse, a choreography centre of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. The calendar of shows and performances can be viewed on their website.
    • Vanhaerents Art collection: The Vanhaerents Art Collection is a family-owned contemporary art collection that gives a substantial overview of artistic movements from the end of the 1970s to the present day.  

    Shopping 

    • Komono: At Komono you’re bound to fall for their sunglasses and minimalist watches that are all designed and made in Belgium!
    • La Fabrika: Fabrika is a lovely little design boutique
    • Brussels Beer project: Brussels Beer Project is the perfect little pitstop to stock up on gifts and have a refreshing drink. Here you can sample exclusive beers that are produced on site in their workshop.

    Where to eat

    • Walvis: Walvis is an institution for locals. Here the neighbourhood’s numerous communities come together and mingle.
    • Kumiko: At Kumiko you’ll find a deliciously varied Japanese cuisine, inspired by inexpensive izakayas in a refined setting.  
    • Mok: At Mok they serve great coffee in a sleek white setting.     
    • Oficina: Officina, is the place to be for fans of vegetarian food, serving homemade seasonal dishes
  • Around KANAL - Centre Pompidou 

    Kanal - Centre Pompidou is the Brussels-Capital Region’s brand-new art centre, housed in the former Citroën garage. It has been stripped out and has temporarily opened its doors until June 2019, when it will close for a couple of years for renovation works. 
    You will discover pieces from the Pompidou Centre that combine visual, design and architecture, and creations by artists living in Brussels. This new centre brings a breath of fresh air to this neighbourhood which is the junction between the city centre and the communes of Molenbeek and Anderlecht. This is definitely one to watch!

    Things to see

    Kaaitheater: The Kaaitheater is a Dutch-speaking Brussels art centre housed in a modernist Art Deco building. You can find their events calendar on their website.

    Shopping   

    Urban Therapy: Urban Therapy is an original concept store filled with objects brought back from trips all over the world, which offers brunches and DIY workshops.

    Where to eat

    Damejeanne: DameJeanne serves up delicious Italian cuisine in a sleek, refined and warm setting. It’s a must for aperitivo!

  • Northern Brussels

    Around ADAM Museum

    The ADAM - Brussels Design Museum is a museum dedicated to design from the 20th and 21st centuries. Its stunning permanent collection of plastic objects showcases this design from the 1950s to the present day. Through its temporary exhibitions, it teaches us about other forms of design, with all eras, materials and styles included.

    Things to see 

    Atomium: An iconic Brussels monument and a vestige of the 1958 Brussels World Fair, the Atomium's majesty never fails to impress. Its various metal balls house exhibition spaces and a brasserie