In heart of the historic city centre of Bruges, Musea Brugge is building the future. With the new BRUSK exhibition hall, the BRON research centre, the renovation of the Groeninge Museum and the creation of a new, green art site in the middle of the Bruges Museum Quarter, we are investing in an innovative, contemporary arts policy that will resonate far beyond the borders of our country. An ambitious museum project that conjures up images of sensational exhibitions, a dynamic place to meet, and a green museum park.
In the coming years the City of Bruges, Musea Brugge and Flanders will invest in an impressive museum master plan in Bruges city centre, with BRUSK as the showpiece at its beating heart.
With BRUSK, a solution will be provided to the long-standing problem of the need for a suitable exhibition space for all types of art: old, modern and contemporary. At the same time, we will also be creating space and facilities that will allow us to store, preserve and research our rich art collections in the best possible conditions. This museum project will make it possible for us to achieve four major ambitions, all of which are consistent with fundamental museal functions that are recognised worldwide: display, collection and preservation, sharing with the widest possible public, and research.
This rehabilitated site with an area of some two hectares will form the final piece of the puzzle in the Bruges Museum Quarter and will give a boost to the city – and, by extension, to Flanders – as a cultural region. The subsidies granted by the Flemish Government, amounting to 27.2 million euros, represent a powerful lever that will help to make possible the further realisation of this museum project, which has a total cost of 47.5 million euros.
BRUSK will be a new and dynamic cultural location for exhibitions with an international resonance. A state-of-the-art museum building that includes integrated sustainability, architectural innovation and harmony with its surroundings among its key priorities.
BRUSK is entered freely through a brightly-lit passageway. The ground floor houses the reception area, the museum shop, the workshops, an auditorium and a restaurant. This is an open, transparent and easily accessible place, in which we wish to provide space for the city, its residents and its visitors.
On the first floor there are two spacious halls, which have everything necessary to host large international exhibitions. These halls (40 x 40 m and 20 x 40 m) distinguish themselves from other halls in the museum landscape by their natural fall of light from the north, which is exactly the same as the fall of light in a classical artist's studio.
This light flows in copiously through two large, north-facing windows (19 x 15 m and 9.5 x 15 m), one in each of the halls. In addition, the height of the halls (13.75 m) calls to mind the historical spaciousness of medieval churches and cathedrals. Moreover, the exhibition halls can also be organised flexibly into separate areas. This makes it possible not only to display outstanding works of art and host quality exhibitions, but also to bring dance, theatre and music into the museum.
Each year in BRUSK it is intended to organise a minimum of five top-class, innovative and topical exhibitions, which will include old, modern and contemporary art. These exhibitions will connect the magnificent and centuries-old collections of Musea Brugge with new and surprising stories. Because they will combine art and heritage from different periods and continents with the present-day world in which we live, these BRUSK exhibitions will be thought-provoking, socially relevant and will stimulate visitors not only to expand their knowledge, but also to better appreciate and better connect with the things they see.
The newly constructed BRUSK is part of a total approach that will lead to the creation of a dynamic art site, an inspirational research hub and an attractive meeting place. Alongside BRUSK, a new research centre for Musea Brugge will also be built. This is BRON, which can be regarded as the brain of Musea Brugge: the place where research into our collections is conducted; where international scientists, academics, guides, students and museum personnel can all meet; where there is space to brainstorm about projects; and where you can even come just to read a book or flick through a specialist magazine. Central elements in the BRON concept include the museum library and the consultation area for prints and drawings.
The Groeninge Museum and chapel – which currently forms the museum's entrance – will also be included within the master plan for the new site and will undergo thorough renovation.
BRUSK will become the place for the display of our magnificent collections in a progressive manner that links them with a contemporary cultural experience.
All these museum buildings – BRUSK, BRON and the Groeninge Museum – will be surrounded by a new museum park. This will serve as a green meeting place, an oasis in the middle of the city, complete with trees, plants and a section of the River Reie, which will be integrated into the park as a real eye-catcher.
The new museum site will not be a place for a 'quick visit', but will be a new, creative and artistic hub in the heart of the city. A pleasant meeting place for local residents and visitors alike; a place where art in all its different forms can find expression and flourish.
Via a logistical footbridge, the two museum halls of BRUSK and the Groeninge Museum will all be connected with a logistical wing, a design concept that offers huge logistical benefits.
This building has been deliberately constructed on the street side of the complex, so that the entire museum site can be kept vehicle- and logistics free. The presence of this non-public, logistical space represents an important addition to the facilities available to the Musea Brugge collections. As well as the restauration workshops and a polyvalent area for photography and natural scientific research, a new depot will also be created for the most vulnerable of our collections: the paintings collection (almost 2,000 in number) and the works on paper collection (more than 20,000 prints and drawings). In total, this will make available an additional 1,100 m² of space for the care of our collections.
BRUSK organises and hosts an innovative, high-quality exhibition programme of (inter)national and multi-disciplinary art from the 14th century to the present day.
Right from the very beginning, BRUSK has made strongly integrated ecological sustainability one of its main priorities. The launch, decoration, furnishing and fitting out of BRUSK and its permanent displays will take due account of the concrete measures specified in the sustainability plan drawn up by Musea Brugge. Attention will be devoted to modular scenography, the recycling or reuse of materials, ecologically sustainable transport, the replacement of paper by digital alternatives, and the use of local and vegetarian catering for openings and receptions.
BRUSK intends to play a leading role in discussions about ecology, art and culture, in part through greater participation and co-creation activities, not only with actors in its specific field, but also with the wider public.
The design of the buildings has also taken account of the most recent norms relating to sustainability. The roofs of the two exhibition halls and the west facade of the largest hall will be fully covered in dark green, electricity-generating glass 'scales', which will provide the building with a sustainable power source. As a result, the building will be twice as energy efficient as the current requirements of the NZE norm. The building also complies as far as possible with the norms of circular construction.
The renovation of the Groeninge Museum and the chapel represents a major step in the right direction for the further development of well-insulated and energy-efficient buildings in Bruges. All the buildings on the museum site will be connected to a BEO (borehole energy storage) field, which provides heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. It is planned that other buildings in the Museum Quarter, such as the Coach House and the Arents House, will also be connected to the heat grid in the future.
August - October 2022: Demolition of the school building
October - December 2022: Archaeological investigation
2023 - mid-2025: Construction of BRUSK and renovation of BRON
Autumn 2025 - spring 2026: Operational commissioning of BRUSK for collection management
Mid-2025: Opening of BRON
Spring 2026: Opening exhibition in BRUSK
2027 - 2028: Renovation of the Groeninge Museum
2028 - 2029: Creation of the museum park
Spring 2029: Opening of the renovated Groeninge Museum
Photos: © Femke den Hollander
Renders: © Design by Robbrecht en Daem architecten & Olivier Salens architecten, Image by MakeMe.