KMSKA, A Museum Under Construction

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Antwerp, the KMSKA (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerpen) has temporarily opened its doors again this and the following weekends i.e. the last two weekends of August 2014. The Museum is going through a major renovation process which will take several years to complete. The works started back in 2011 and it is said that they will take another 4 years from now on before the re-opening will take place. Meanwhile the artworks are stowed away safely or traveling to exhibitions elsewhere in the city or abroad.

The building dates back from 1890 and needed a thorough makeover to be up to par again with current museum standards. It also will benefit from an extension which will be constructed completely inside and on top of the existing building. The outer facades will not change a bit, and the newly built part will not be visible from the outside.

Today the KMSKA has been closed for three years already, and a lot of work has been done. The building was stripped bare of all the non-original parts and most of the add-ons dating from the twentieth century. Also an atomic bunker in the basement (really !) needed to be removed piece by piece, and all out-dated technical installations were removed.

These two weekends, the public was invited to visit the premises as they are now, and before the next phase of building the integrated extension will take off. So we had a nice stroll through the museum construction site this morning, and took our cameras with us. Photographing the site and sharing the images on social media is encouraged as is noted on a large sign near the entrance.

It was actually quite a unique and enjoyable walk in a small group and guided by a knowledgeable guide explaining the changes the site is going through, and of which there are many more to come. The images of the large eclectic museum now stripped naked of its dropped ceilings, wall paper and fabric, stucco decoration and what else, show in fact a warm and fragile house of art. You can imagine the spacious rooms living and breathing art through the ages. At one point it is an ambivalent idea to show a grande museum to the public in such a vulnerable phase of its existence. But then again, there is such a beauty in this scenery of 'demolish and construct', that we were grateful for the opportunity to visit KMSKA in this phase of its 'rebirth'. For more information about the museum and the whole process of its renovation: have a look at the KMSKA website at and its blog. Also very worthwhile are the photographs made by Karin Borghouts, official photographer of the museum construction wharf.