MAS Museum, Antwerp
The Mas Museum is a museum of Antwerp, and also included exhibitions on five of its floors on a myriad of subjects...some dealing the Antwerp being a working port city, others dealing with subjects such as how life and death is looked at around the world. I spent several hours exploring the various exhibits and found the one dealing with "Power" in society of particular interest. There are great views Antwerp from the roof.
For a city the calibre of Antwerp, I had expected a little more. Still the MAS merits a visit for its building and surroundings, its panorama of the city and its visible storage. All these are free. Up to you whether you want to visit the permanent collection.
It's not often I rave about a museum but the MAS is, as it claims in its literature: "A Must See". To give it its full title the Museum aan de Stroom presents Antwerp's history both educationally and entertainingly, as a city and as a port. As well as its local history the MAS places Antwerp in its global context with all five floors of the permanent exhibitions being themed to reflect the city's worldwide influences as well as its own inner development.
The architecturally stunning 10 storey building was designed by the Dutch company Neutlings Riedijk which in addition to being visually impressive externally is craftily constructed so that as you ascend each floor, using the escalators, you get a different view over the city through the windows immediately in front of you.
Entry to the building, and its surrounding "boulevard", is free and there is plenty to see and do with all sorts of mini-exhibitions, the individual views from each floor and the panoramic rooftop (which unfortunately was closed during my visit because of the weather). The ground floor has the info desk, ticket windows, cloakroom, the Storm cafe/bar and toilets. The first floor is the administrative level whilst the second floor has a free entry "Visible Storage" room containing museum pieces from the MAS collection and an exhibition about behind the scenes.
The third floor is used for temporary exhibitions, for which there is a separate entry fee or can be accessed with a combined ticket. Such exhibitions look at specific aspects of the city's past, present and future and during my visit this was entitled "Bonaparte at the Scheldt".
With limited time I gave the temporary exhibition a miss, concentrating instead on the permanent exhibition. Even this turned out to be a half-day visit and the admission fee, for which you get the relevant wristband, allows you to come and go at will and so you can pop out for a breath of fresh air between rooms.
The five floors have four "themes", these being: Displays of Power; Metropolis; World Port and Life and Death (which takes up two floors). As you enter each of the rooms you are greeted by a sound sculpture by the in-house composer Eric Sliechem which sets the tone. There are information leaflets too (in several languages) describing the main features and I found it worthwhile to sit and read through these before going round the displays.
The collections are intelligently arranged and pretty much tell their own story without the labels. However for non-Dutch speakers the labels have QR codes which can be read in several languages with a suitably programmed smartphone - these are also available for loan, free of charge, from the information desk provided you exchange your ID as security.
Many of the individual displays have multi-media and other interactive supporting material - for instance the case of African dance costumes are accompanied by a video screen showing a dance in progress with the dancers wearing the costumes.
In the World Port room an interactive touch screen allows you to investigate both the history and geography of Antwerp's trading past and the custodians are more than happy to demonstrate how to use it.
This makes for a very family-friendly museum as children, of all ages, can actually play with many of the exhibits and at the end of each room there's a collection of books for further investigation, once again aimed at reaching all age groups. As well as family groups the MAS has a pro-active approach to encourage school visits with entry fees for 12-16 year-olds being 1 euro and free entrance for under 12's and their teachers. Entry to the permanent exhibition is also free for local residents.
At the time of my visit the standard entrance fee was 5 euros (March 2003) and worth every cent. For up-to-date prices, opening hours and loads of other useful information the website below is also well worth a visit.
For some more pics see my travelogues by clicking HERE
This Museum on the River was opened in 2010 after fifteen years of preparation and construction.
As a resident of Germany I tend to feel the hairs standing up on the back of my neck when I read about a huge project like this, because I think of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, the BER airport in Berlin or the railroad burial project Stuttgart 21. These are all prestige projects that fill no real need and are subject to huge cost-overruns, endless delays and incredible incompetence.
As for the new MAS building in Antwerp, I don’t know how much it cost or how controversial is was or is, but I was surprised to find that it is strikingly beautiful and evidently quite popular with locals and tourists alike.
We started out by having drinks and a rest at some of the outdoor tables of the STORM café on the ground floor. Then those of us who were not suffering from heat exhaustion rode up the escalators to the rooftop observation deck on the tenth floor, where there are great views in all directions of the city, the river and the harbor (second, third, fourth and fifth photos).
The escalators were all in operation, by the way, and all running smoothly – not something you are likely to find at a big prestige project in Germany.
Unfortunately we arrived too late to visit any of the museum exhibits, but they sound fascinating. They combine the collections of Antwerp’s old ethnographic, maritime and historical museums, but apparently have been put together in new ways to tell “new stories” about the city, the river and the port and about Antwerp’s connection with the rest of the world.
The façade of the MAS building is partly glass (fluted panels of glass, especially made in Verona for this project) and partly a mottled pattern of red sandstone slabs from Rajasthan, of all places. I was puzzled about the arrangement of these sandstone slabs, so I later did some clicking around (what we quaintly used to call “research”) and found an article from the Architectural Review explaining that these sandstone slabs “were taken from four separate quarries and therefore have subtle gradations in tone.”
The article goes on: “The patterning is random, but constrained in such a way that three panels of the same colour never touch. In the sun, the result is a dappled effect that is beautiful; under the flat grey skies that are so common in Flanders, the panels add a surface depth and visual complexity.“
The building was designed by the Dutch architectural firm “Neutelings Riedijk Architects”, whose proposal was chosen from 55 submissions that were sent in from all over the world.
Location of MAS on Google Maps.
The MAs museum is a new modern museum building located in the old Antwerp harbour area. You either love it or hate the design.
MAS means Museum aan de Stroom. The roof of the building offers a great lookoff onto the city.
There are four permanent collections: Power, Worldcity, Worldharbour and Life & Dead.
Furthermeore there are temporary exhibitions.
-Permanent collection:€ 5 (Adult)
-Exhibition: € 8 (Adult)
-Combined ticket: € 10 (Adult)
Tu-We: 10AM - 5PM; roof till 9:30PM
Th: 10AM - 9PM (after 5PM limited opening); roof till 9:30PM
Fr-Su: 10AM - 5PM; roof till 9:30PM
Opened in May 2011 this stunning museum shows the story Antwerp through the ages up to present day.The museum is set on five floors and has other 400,000 objects and pictures throughout its stunning,modern halls.An escalator takes you right up to the rooftop where you can take in the magnificent views of Antwerp and surrounding areas such as the port and the river.There is a Cafe and a reception room and the MAS shop stands in a seperate building across the way from the museum.
Opening times:Tue till Fri:10.00-17.00,Sat and Sun:10.00-18.00,Closed Mondays
Prices:Individuals:€8,Seniors:€6,12 to 26 yr olds:€1,Under 12's:free
The rooftop view is free.
A lot of exhibitions !
At the 8th floor is a roof terrace. From there you have a nice view over the river Schelde and the city.