Wanting to take advantage of the green backdrop of Léopold Park, George Eastman (1854-1932), a philanthropist who made photography widely accessible through Kodak, commissioned Michel Polak to build a dental institute. George Eastman had already commissioned the building of similar centres in Rochester, London, Rome, Paris and Stockholm. The Swiss architect, who also designed the nearby Résidence Palace building, was a committed advocate of Modernism and conceived a plain façade with flat roof with a focus on space and layout. A huge stylised wrought iron composition by Brussels-based craftsman Alfred François accentuates the imposing nature of the main entrance. Inside, the grand entrance hall enhanced with high-quality marble gives access to the offices and the children’s waiting room decorated with frescos by painter Camille Barthélémy, a personal friend of Michel Polak, on the theme of the Fontaine Fables. “The monkey and the cat”, “The fox and the chickens” and “The two goats” can all be recognised. Opened to the public for the first time on 6 May, the House of European History is dedicated to facilitating an understanding of the shared past and different experiences of the citizens of Europe. Its programme of activities includes a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of the European continent in the 19th and 20th centuries and a temporary exhibition. In 2011, a group consisting of the architectural studio Chaix & Morel et Associés (France), JSWD Architekten (Germany) and TPF Engineering (Belgium) came up with a design for the construction of a contemporary extension.
Temporary exhibition “Interactions. Centuries of commerce, combat and creation”, inviting visitors to explore the encounters and interactions between the peoples of Europe over the centuries and the impacts of these interactions in our day-to-day lives.