On 24 September 2022, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) will reopen its doors to the public. For the past 11 years, Flanders leading museum has been undergoing a radical rebuilding and expansion gaining 40% more exhibition space. The exceptional art collection has also been given a complete restoration and conservation treatment. The masterpieces will once again resume their place in the museum, and in September, the public will be able to explore seven centuries of outstanding art in a completely new scenography.
The KMSKA hosts the largest art collection in Flanders: seven centuries of art from Flemish Primitives to Expressionists with world-famous masters including the largest collection in the world of James Ensor and Rik Wouters.
The renewed KMSKA focuses on looking at art and also on experiencing art: it is about more than a beautiful building and a fantastic art collection. With our interactive and varied offer we want to reach everyone: participation, inclusion and diversity will not be empty words here. We will also further refine our programme on this once we are open. Carmen Willems, General Director KMSKA
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) closed in 2011 for a comprehensive renovation as specified in a dedicated master plan. In 2004, KAAN Architecten in Rotterdam were appointed to develop a master plan for the museum. Four courtyards of the existing building have been converted into new museum spaces and an internal depot has been built as part of the renovation. Visitors will be able to follow the original itinerary in the existing building as they walk through the restored stately public galleries of the museum. The architectural concept takes the visitor on a journey through two contrasting and conversing museums which remain - nonetheless - always in balance and showcase the best in the KMSKA collection. Besides the museum's interior renovation, the exterior is also undergoing a metamorphosis with its restored fašade, a new mosaic floor, a sculpture at the entrance and the creation of a new museum garden. The KMSKA aims to be a welcoming place for the visitor with a focus on the experience, hospitality and creativity.
"At the start of this new Flemish government, we were determined to free up the necessary resources for the complete execution of the master plan for the KMSKA. The public had waited long enough for the reopening. We decided to exhibit seven centuries of masterpieces in the best possible circumstances. Thanks to this extensive renovation and expansion, the KMSKA can resume its place among the leading European art museums." Jan Jambon, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders
"Thanks to the ingenious intervention by KAAN Architecten, the KMSKA is gaining 40% more exhibition space without impacting the structure of the historic building. Together, the new and the historic sections give the museum a strong and exciting dynamic. The architecture reinforces the experience, which is what we will be focusing on in this museum. The new museum will be an open house where every visitor can enjoy, discover, participate and experience without any obstacles. We have set ourselves the aim of evoking the finest feeling in our visitors. That feeling can have many dimensions and layers, just like the stories that we will be telling in the museum. " Luk Lemmens, chair of KMSKA non-profit organisation
The collection and the installation of the artworks
The KMSKA collection holds 8,400 objects making it impossible to show all of them to the public. Following a rigorous selection process, over 600 works will soon get a place on the walls of the new and the refurbished galleries.
During the closure, the art collection of the KMSKA was kept in both an internal and an external depot. From within the external depot, an active operation was set up. Thus, almost 4,000 works of art travelled around the world. Internally, the dedicated atelier simultaneously restored just over 130 paintings and sculptures.
The works that are not exhibited are made accessible by the KMSKA via the digital collection catalogue on the website