The Magritte Museum is one of Brussels’ best-loved museums, visited annually by more than 300,000 people worldwide. Dedicated to the iconic surrealist artist René Magritte, it hosts the most extensive collection of his works, ranging from apple-faced men to pipes that are not pipes.
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About the Magritte Museum in Brussels
The Magritte Museum in Brussels is part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium complex, which overlooks the Place Royale. This museum houses the world’s most extensive collection of the surrealist artist René Magritte. The exhibit includes over 200 works: paintings, drawings, sculptures, advertising posters, photographs, and more.
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René Magritte is a world-renowned artist known for his artistic works. His most iconic work is the series of pipes with the caption ‘Ceci n’est pas un pipe’. Other famous works are the series of the man with an apple face and the lovers kissing covered by a sheet. The museum showcases some of René Magritte’s most famous paintings. Still, the exhibition offers much more. In fact, it provides a complete overview of the artist’s career, starting from his beginnings as an advertising illustrator.
Musée Magritte: its journey from the Museum of Modern Art to an independent space
The Magritte Museum was initially a section of the Museum of Modern Art of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium rather than an independent museum. However, due to the acquisition of new artworks and donations from individuals such as Georgette Magritte and Irène Scutenaire-Hamoir, the collection of René Magritte’s works grew a lot.
Then, from an extent, it overshadowed other pieces in the museum. It was, therefore, necessary to create a separate museum. The location chosen for the museum was a building in the centre of Brussels, the former Hôtel Altenloh, which is today connected to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium complex.
The museum houses a diverse collection of Magritte’s works. There are oils on canvas, gouaches (tempera painting), advertising posters, drawings, sculptures, painted objects, musical scores, films, and period photographs. The Magritte Museum has had an immediate success since its opening. It is one of the most visited museums in Brussels, with more than 300,000 visitors a year worldwide.
Musée Magritte: what’s on
The René Magritte museum spreads across three floors. It follows a chronological and thematic order of the artist’s work from top to bottom. On the third floor, you will find Magritte’s early works. It represents a period of analysis and artistic research, along with the production of advertising posters.
On the second floor, visitors can see lesser-known works, including those produced by René Magritte in Brussels during the war. Eventually, on the first floor, you can see his most famous works, published in every art book.
The works of René Magritte
René Magritte is one of the most famous Belgian artists in the world. He is also considered one of the most important surrealist painters. His style takes up the imagery of dreams, with objects and animals merging together, paintings in which day and night appear together and unusual juxtapositions.
Best known for his paintings, René Magritte was a very versatile artist who used many different techniques throughout his life. In the Magritte Museum in Brussels, you can see an overview of everything he did besides paintings. Drawings, sketches, prints, posters and painted objects tell how his art evolved.
I really liked the publicity posters from his early period. Such as the ones he painted for the Luxor Distillery in Brussels and the 18 September festival of the Belgian textile workers. The clean lines and solid colours make them seem contemporary, even though a century has passed since their creation.
Other must-see paintings are the surrealist ones. In addition to the iconic blue skies with white clouds, in the Magritte Museum, you can see plants that become birds, empty spaces and writing, and pink unicorns. Many works are part of a series that takes the same images or themes and interprets them differently.
Magritte Museum: information, opening hours and tickets
The Magritte Museum in Brussels mentioned in this article (Musée Magritte) is the museum run by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. In the Belgian capital, there is also the Magritte Museum, another museum dedicated to René Magritte, located in the house where the artist worked and lived for more than 24 years.
Magritte Museum shares the lobby with the Oldmasters Museum and the Fin de Siecle Museum, but tickets are purchased separately. Although the spaces of the various museums are distinct, the structure provides smooth transitions from one environment to another.
The Magritte Museum also includes a bookshop with many books and objects dedicated to Magritte, perfect for an original gift. Some of the most curious gift ideas include puzzles of the most famous paintings, socks with pipes and clouds, a pillow in the shape of a pipe and a booklet containing all of René Magritte’s phrases from the tour.
How much Magritte Museum tickets cost
The Magritte Museum is part of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, but unlike the Oldmasters Museum and Fin de Siecle Museum for which the ticket is cumulative, you have to buy a separate ticket which costs €10.
There is also a ticket that includes all three museums, but it is not available online. Due to the large number of visitors to the Magritte Museum, booking your entrance in advance is best, especially if you plan to visit during holidays or weekends. Check openings and ticket availability from the booking calendar below to plan your visit without mishaps.
Admission is free for children and young people up to 19 and holders of the Brussels City Card, Brussels’s official tourist card. You can enter all the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium for free, including the Magritte Museum, every first Wednesday of the month from 1 pm, but the free ticket does not include access to temporary exhibitions.
Magritte Museum’s opening hours
The Magritte Museum is closed on Mondays. From Tuesday to Friday, it opens at 10:00 am and closes at 5:00 pm. On weekends, it opens and closes one hour later, from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to get to the Magritte Museum in Brussels
The Magritte Museum is in the main building of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, overlooking Place Royale, also called Koningsplein in Dutch. You can recognise it for the windows with the iconic blue skies with white clouds from his paintings.
The museum is in the central area of Brussels and can be easily reached on foot if you are already in the centre, or by public transport. There are also paid parking spaces near the museum. Still, I suggest you avoid the car to visit the attractions in the centre of the Belgian capital.
Place Royale/Koningsplein, 3
Where to stay in Brussels
Brussels offers a variety of accommodation options. If you’re looking for a hotel in the city centre, I recommend the Pillows City Hotel Brussels Centre. It is just 100 metres from Brussels Central Station and a 5-minute walk from Grand Place and the Manneken Pis Statue. For a charming and authentic experience, you can stay at the Happy Guesthouse in a typical townhouse with an Art Nouveau façade. They serve a delicious homemade breakfast made with Belgian products. In the European Quarter, Ambiorix Residence is a great option. They offer rooms with private bathrooms, a shared kitchen, and a lounge area.
The Magritte Museum is a must-see on a trip to Brussels. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, whether you already visited the museum or decided to explore it after reading this article.