A rich, accessible and inclusive program has been announced on 2 December during the official press conference related to the Art Nouveau Year to be celebrated throughout the whole next year. Why 2023? In 1893, exactly 130 years ago Victor Horta finished the Tassel House, the founding work of the Art Nouveau movement in Brussels. The impressive modernity of its façade and its sumptuous interiors mark a milestone in the history of architecture.
Rudi Vervoort, Minister-President of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region explained that in Brussels there are over 1000 buildings that feature Art Nouveau style out of which 200 are listed. “Already back in the ‘90s the New York Times stated that Brussels was the Capital of Art Nouveau. We not only want to reinforce this idea, but also to further develop and make it more accessible. Art Nouveau is us, label of the Belgian fabric.” “Victor Horta and his contemporaries were super-innovative geniuses of their time. The Art Nouveau style practised by them stimulates imagination.” (Sven Gatz, Brussels Minister responsible for Finance, Budget, Civil Service, the Promotion of Multilingualism and the Image of Brussels).
Pascal Smet, Brussels state secretary for Urbanism, Heritage & External Relations, explained in further detail the project. “2023 is just the beginning to better promote Art Nouveau in the years to come.” Paul Dujardin, Commissioner responsible for the Art Nouveau Year highlighted the impressive number of existing partners. “For example, when it was officially announced the BRAFA Art Fair would also focus on Art Nouveau, there was instantly huge international interest. The main aim is to give a contemporary meaning to Art Nouveau.”
And let’s see now few concrete plans: Hotel van Eetvelde, Unesco World Heritage site by Arch. Victor Horta will be restored and open to the public in February 2023. It will become one of the central venues of the thematic year accessible to the public several days a week and hosting scientific events as well. Five major art nouveau facades will get festive lighting during the evening and the parking slots in front of them will be eliminated – good news for taking good photos!
Among the numerous museums joining the programme, there will be two large temporary exhibitions organised. One in Bozar entitled “Victor Horta and the grammar of Art Nouveau” and another one in the Art and History Museum: “Josef Hoffmann – Progress through Beauty”. Furthermore, in the latter a whole new wing will be dedicated to Art Nouveau due to open in autumn 2023. Another highlight will be the opening of Maison Hannon as the newest Art Nouveau museum of the city. Don’t forget that the Art Nouveau Pass will be a great option to make the most of the offer!
Brussels is founding member of the Réseau Art Nouveau Network (RANN), Brussels has provided its secretariat since 1999 and now the offices have been installed in the Office of van Eetvelde recently purchased by the region. During the year of Art Nouveau, the 18 cities that make up the RANN will present their Art Nouveau heritage in a Salon organised in Brussels in 2023.
With the coordination of Visit Brussels and Urban Brussels, a multidisciplinary programme will highlight major heritage elements through a renewed and strengthened museum offer, numerous major exhibitions, festive events, guided tours, conferences and publications and multiple international partnerships. The major annual events like BRAFA Art Fair, Bright Festival, BANAD, World Art Nouveau Day, the Heirtage Days and the Artonov festival will all have special focus on the thematic year. The project aims to be long-term and to develop common and cross-cutting opportunities for all sectors and stakeholders over the long term. Art Nouveau will be celebrated in all its diversity and Brussels will stake its claim as the capital of this international artistic movement.
A renewed and amplified museum offering
A new museum: Hôtel Hannon
The long-closed Hôtel Hannon will reopen its doors in 2023. Architect Jules Brunfaut designed this Art Nouveau townhouse commissioned by engineer Édouard Hannon. Its architecture, furniture and decoration are impressive. Brunfaut drew his inspiration for the interior from French Art Nouveau. In cooperation with several national and international institutions, including the Musée des Arts décoratifs of Paris and the Musée de l’École of Nancy, the original interior was partially restored. At Hôtel Hannon, visitors will be able to discover the living quarters of the colourful Édouard Hannon. On the first floor, an exhibition on Belgian Art Nouveau (Hankar, Serrurier-Bovy and van de Velde) can be admired for several months.
A new Art Nouveau circuit at the Art & History Museum
After having reconstructed the Wolfers gold- and silversmithery designed by Horta, the Art & History Museum is continuing this dynamic by dedicating two new rooms to the 19th and 20th centuries and presenting a brand new Art Nouveau circuit starting in autumn 2023. They will feature exceptional works, such as the famous winter garden Horta designed for Jean Cousin.
An Art Nouveau interpretation centre in the Van Eetvelde office
Edmond Van Eetvelde, general administrator of the Congo Free State, commissioned Victor Horta in the late 19th century to design Hôtel Van Eetvelde. This exceptional UNESCO World Heritage Site is divided into two parts. The Brussels-Capital Region recently bought the left part to install an Art Nouveau interpretation centre, a dialogue space with contemporary creations and a space for research and debate. Among other things, it will question the links with the Belgian colony.
Hôtel Van Eetvelde has a perfect strategic location to suit as the Art Nouveau Year information point. It will be open several days a week and will also host conferences and workshops, among other things. In addition, the public will also be able to visit the left part of the building, where an exhibition on the key moments of this art movement and its links to colonisation will offer them more insight in Art Nouveau.
Major festive events
Major regional events such as the Iris Festival (May 2023) and the Bright Brussels light festival (from 16 to 19 February 2023) will exceptionally highlight Art Nouveau. Participants of Lab XR4Heritage will artistically illuminate three exceptional Art Nouveau sites during Bright Brussels: the Musical Instruments Museum (Old England), the Cinquantenaire Park Art & History Museum and the school group Josaphat No 1 in Schaerbeek. In the Sablon, the Horta Museum, the ULB and the AlIce laboratory will bring Maison du Peuple back to life. This Victor Horta masterpiece was demolished in 1965.
The Heritage Days (16 and 17 September) and the Brussels Art Nouveau & Art Deco Festival “BANAD” (from 11 to 26 March) will organise their programme in such a way that as many people as possible will be able to discover little-known and hidden Art Nouveau masterpieces.
Several other events will highlight Art Nouveau. These include the BRAFA Art Fair (January 2023), Spring at the Cemeteries, organised by the city of Brussels (May 2023) and Festival Artonov (October 2023).
Iconic buildings and collections to admire all year round
Apart from many buildings and collections that will be open at specific times, there will be a dozen that you can visit all year round.
These include seven Victor Horta masterpieces, three of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List: the Horta Museum, with the architect’s former studio and residence; the Solvay House, for which an unlimited budget allowed the architect to use all his creativity; Hôtel Van Eetvelde (new!); the Autrique House, home to the foundations of Art Nouveau in a scenography by François Schuiten and Benoit Peeters; the Waucquez department stores, former textile shops that now house the Comics Art Museum; the Temple of Human Passions and the Wolfers Frères gold- and silversmithery, accessible thanks to the Art & History Museum in the Cinquantenaire Park.
Visitors will also be able to admire exceptional architecture and collections at two other museums: the Musical Instrument Museum, since 2000 in the Old England department store, a splendid building by Paul Saintenoy with an almost entirely metal facade; the Fin-de-Siècle Museum, designed to house the extraordinary Gillion Crowet collection and with remarkable French and Belgian Art Nouveau collections.
Finally, you can discover the daily life of artists and collectors of the time in two museum houses: the Cauchie House, designed by and for Paul and Lina Cauchie; Hôtel Hannon (new!).
An exhibition at Bozar and many temporary exhibitions for new insight on Art Nouveau
In addition to the buildings and museums that are always dedicated to Art Nouveau, several partners will approach the theme from various angles in 2023. They will highlight their collections and offer an original reading of them during temporary exhibitions:
Brussels City Museum ((The King’s House): “Back to Nature 1900” (from February to October 2023)
Horta Museum: “Victor Horta versus Art nouveau. Horta’s vocabulary” (from March to December 2023)
CIVA: “The Unmade Pavilion” (provisional title) (from March to September 2023)
Autrique House: “Privat Livemont FLOWER POWER” (from March 2023 to January 2024)
BELvue Museum and King Baudouin Foundation: “Art Nouveau. Masters from here” (provisional title) (from May to October 2023)
Belgian Comic Strip Center: “Bande dessinée et Art nouveau” (Comic strip and Art Nouveau) (from September 2023 to January 2024)
MAD: “Jaime Hayon” (from September 2023 to January 2024)
BOZAR: “Victor Horta and the Grammar of Art nouveau” (from October 2023 to January 2024) Art & History Museum Cinquantenaire: “Josef Hoffmann: Beauty, Modernity and Ideals” in partnership with the Museum of Applied Arts of Vienna (from October 2023 to April 2024)
De l’Art nouveau à la Mode (From Art Nouveau to Fashion) of the Fashion & Lace Museum @ Hortamuseum (from November 2023 to January 2024)
Train World: “Horta, Van de Velde & Friends – Le train des créateurs” (from December 2023 to October 2024)
Finally, the annual programme of the iconic Halles Saint-Géry will focus entirely on Art Nouveau. Many activities with different themes will take place, such as Art Nouveau-inspired cooking. Several exhibitions on various Art Nouveau aspects will also be organised: “L’Art nouveau s’affiche !” (from January to April 2023) ; “Les jardins, un outil au temps de l’Art Nouveau. Architecture & Nature” and “Arabesque, quand le cirque contemporain interprète l’Art Nouveau” (from May to August 2023), “Vivre un bâtiment Art nouveau” and a joint photo exhibition (Urban Zoom) on the Brusselers’ favourite Art Nouveau heritage.
Other exhibition venues are also taking part in Art Nouveau Year, by lending artworks from their collections. These include the Royal Library, Design Museum Gent, Musée d’Ixelles, etc.
The official website dedicated to the 2023 Art Nouveau Year is now accessible here:
More details: Source for the renewed museum offering.