The Middelheim Museum is an open-air museum for sculptures. It houses a unique permanent collection and organizes temporary exhibitions in the pavilions, the sculpture park and the public space.
In 1950, an international sculpture exhibition was organised for the first time in Middelheim Park, which covered a surface area of 20 hectares at the time. At the suggestion of Mayor Lode Craeybeckx, the town council decided to establish a permanent open-air sculpture museum here. The internationally renowned biennial sculpture exhibitions have been organised in the park since 1951, always during the summer months. They used to take place in the grounds of Middelheim-Laag, on the opposite side of Middelheim Park. The series concluded with the twentieth biennial in 1989.
In 1971, the Braem Pavilion in Middelheim-Hoog was inaugurated, to the design of the Antwerp architect Renaat Bream. Here you can see smaller or more fragile sculptures and works from the collection that cannot be displayed in open air.
In 1993 Antwerp was the European Capital of Culture, prompting the museum to follow a new direction. Henceforth the acquisition budget was spent on contemporary art, allowing the Middelheim Museum to acquire work at international level, from artists who are already recognised in contemporary art history.
The year 2000 was a turning point for Middelheim. The park was extended with seven hectares of land, bringing the museum’s total surface area to 27 hectares. The new space gave the Middelheim Museum the opportunity to reorganise the collection and hold more temporary exhibitions. A new depot was opened in May 2000 in Middelheim-Hoog. It was designed by the Bruges-based architect, Stéphane Beel.
In May 2012, the Middelheim Museum reopened after a renovation. The transformation was spectacular: the museum was significantly expanded and the museum infrastructure had been modernised The new semi-open pavilion Het Huis (The House), designed by Robbrecht and Daem architects, became a central feature of the museum’s exhibition policy. The Middelheim collection was re-examined and renowned artists created new works specifically for the museum. The museum developed an intense outreach programme.
Middelheimlaan 61 2020 Antwerpen