July 10, 2011

Places to See in Belgium

We left the States on the 29th, but it has taken my wife and I a bit of time to get this whole tourism thing on the ball. But once we did, of course, it becomes immediately difficult staying abreast of all of the visual material I have to share. So I have to move quickly.

So here's the dealio on what you can't miss if you visit Brussels, where we're staying (particularly if you're an artist that tends to draw on anything and everything visual, as well as huge chunks of other sensory experience):

Natural Science Museum
Brussels, Belgium

Musical Instrument Museum
Brussels, Belgium

Weirtz Museum
Brussels, Belgium


On the 1st Wednesday of every month in Brussels, you can catch a lot of museums for free between one and five pm. The three museums above are some of that you could see during those times.

The Natural Science Museum: This was well worth the visit for the skeletons, dinosaur bones, and the primate floors. Be aware though, only the dinosaur level has translations in English. But it's still worth a view.

Musical Instrument Museum: This museum had an interesting setup. You had headphones that would play samplings of each musical instrument when you stood in front of them. But my advice is if you happen to not be happy with your headphones (any slight technical problems), you should be sure to switch those out at the front desk before you head on; I dealt with a lot more static than I probably needed to. Some might have trouble with the non-western instrument sections where the tones might ring a bit tinny in your ear after a while. Normally I'd of been into it, but combined with the second-rate headphones, it became a bit difficult to concentrate on what I was seeing/hearing. But the upper floors became much easier to digest and cut through my technical difficulties; probably due to familiarity with the sounds, matched with the tremendous amount of detailing and art that went into all of the inlays, woodwork, metalwork... I enjoyed myself a lot more. There was a lot of art in the upper floors.

The Weirtz Museum: This has to be one of the weirdest museums I've been to. I had no knowledge of  this artist before hand. But there were some unique things that you might find alluring: It housed the largest canvases I've ever seen (see #1 above). There was a painting/mural that the artist chose to put in a corner of the building taking advantage of the rough texture of the concrete of the wall for inspiration (see #3, 4). It also contained some of the strangest pictures I've ever seen. One made me laugh aloud when viewing it (partially due to a terse, well-timed, off-colored comment from my companion - see #2). I had heard that Weirtz was known for his violence, but seeing a painting of a woman preparing a small child's leg with which she cut off to eat in a soup, I suppose, took me by surprise. Don't worry; she still held the bloodied body in her arms for comfort (NOT PICTURED - you didn't want me spoiling all the fun, did you?).

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