The site of the restored Cinquantenaire Park should become an absolute attraction by 2030

Updated: 2023-04-20 – 19:37

Through an ambitious heritage project, the Federal Government and a number of partners want to transform Cinquantenaire Park into a lively, contemporary site for Belgium’s bicentenary that will attract tourists, Belgians and Brussels residents alike. The large-scale plans were revealed on Thursday amid great interest. Cost: 155 million euros.

“The new social and cultural leader in Brussels”. With this motto in mind, a group of ministers, mayors and also the EU Commissioner went to Cinquantenaire Park on Thursday to present the public project that was designed for the site.

Coverage tunnel

What is it all about? Revitalize the Cinquantenaire – museums and parks – and lead them into the 21st century. “You must not forget: the park was a little neglected a few decades ago,” says Mayor of Etterbeek Vincent de Wolfe (MR).

“We’ve come a long way. Just think of the fountain which has been in a rather sad state for too long, or the insecurity that’s been in the news in recent years. Now we’re moving into a rejuvenated symbolic garden with a strong European and international flair. The mentality around it has changed. Quite the role of the park.”

Today, some renovations are already taking place in the park, in the coming years the park will not only be updated, but also significantly change its face.

For example: the car tunnel that runs through the middle of the above-ground park is covered by European subsidies. To this end, a call for projects for architecture firms will be launched.

Look into the future

The museums in the park – the Royal Museums of Art and History, the Army Museum and Autoworld – are not adequately geared to the potential of their collections, says Secretary of State for Science Policy Thomas Dermin (PS).

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We have – by European standards – the best collections, but some are not presented or some are not modern enough. We are, so to speak, in a museum in a museum. So the investment must be made in both infrastructure, buildings, presentation and Museology of the collections, because we want to stimulate interest in these museums by 2030.” In this context, the buildings on the site are also being renovated.

The Minister, the Mayor or the non-profit organization Horizon 50-200, created under the direction of Minister Dermine to give concrete shape to the renovated Cinquantenaire Park: Everyone agreed that Cinquantenaire Park puts too much emphasis on the past. He said it was time to look to the future.

“Think of an Army Museum,” says Diermin. “We should not only look at our military in the past, but also at the role our country plays in the field of peace, today and tomorrow.”

groups in a new context

Paul Dujardin, the driving force behind the nonprofit organization Horizon 50-200, tells BRUZZ.

For decades, museums in Europe have been built around our identity and the nation-state. All kinds of art and historical works and documents have arrived in capitals from all over the world, but people no longer know them.”

“For example, there is an enormous archive of photographs and films here, we have a little-known ceramics collection, a gigantic textile collection: you name it. Not only do we have painting here, but there are countless thousands of art and historical pieces and they have long been undiscovered by the public.” We now have to put these wonderful collections into a new context, focusing on the virtual world and science, for example.”

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Outdoors and sports

In any case, ambitions reach for the sky. The Cinquantenaire Park should not only become a place where collections, innovation and scholarly research of different museums and institutions can do more justice in a more modern setting, but also aim to give Brussels residents more of a taste of the park.

Not only should culture and science be integrated there, the initiators also want to make Cinquantenaire Park – more than today – a place of social encounter.

It is about food, but also, for example, neighborhood outings, sporting events and public gatherings led by social, sports and cultural associations, to which the local population will also contribute.

There is no construction site in 2030

It’s not entirely the intention, Dermene says, that all plans, the concrete details of which are not fully clear, will meet the 2030 deadline. “Not everything will be ready before 2030, but the look of the park will be very different by Belgium’s bicentenary.”

“In any case, there is no intention of celebrating at a construction site in 2030,” Dujardin adds.

The budget is 155 million euros, more than half of which (80 million) comes from Belleris. The remaining 75 million euros will be paid for by the Belgian Building Agency.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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