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The Victor Horta Museum in Brussels is an attraction than no fan of art and architecture will want to miss. It’s found at 25 Rue Americaine and comprises both the former home and studio of the man who is widely acknowledged as the key figure in the Art Nouveau world of architecture. The 1893 Art Nouveau style Maison Autrique is the first town house that Horta built in Brussels, and it is one of, if not the first, example of Art Nouveau architecture. This is significant when one considers how wildly popular the art form was throughout the Western world between the years of 1890 and 1905. The four town houses that Horta designed in Brussels are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which only helps to cement their importance. Among them are his former home, which is now the Horta Museum, the Maison Autrique, the Hotel Tassel, and Hotel Solvay.
Victor Horta was born in Ghent, Belgium, in 1861. After helping out at a building site at the ripe old age of 12, Horta began to develop his architectural sense. After studying architecture in Ghent as a young man, he was off to Paris, where he found inspiration around every corner. In 1880, when Horta relocated to Brussels, he undertook studies at the city’s acclaimed academy of fine arts. Upon meeting fellow Belgian architect, Paul Hankar, Horta was on the road to plying his trade. He became an assistant professor to another renowned Belgian architect, Alphonse Balat, and soon thereafter, the two were hard at work designing the Greenhouses of Laeken. Built between the years of 1874 and 1895, these greenhouses can be found at the Royal Castle of Laeken in Brussels. Horta’s career was officially off and running and he began to work on his own, gaining favor with influential citizens all over town. Art Nouveau architecture was beginning to catch on, and Horta was an integral part of the process.
When you visit the Victor Horta Museum, you’ll get a chance to learn all about the life and career of Horta, who passed away in 1947. In addition to documents that provide insight into Horta’s life, you can also view various art objects that he and other stylists of the time designed. The Art Nouveau style was generously applied in the furniture industry during its heyday, and you’ll find some fine examples at this insightful and unique Brussels art museum as well as various smaller utensils. While you are checking out the items on exhibit at the Victor Horta Museum, you will want to take a second to look down the home’s spiral staircase from the top. It’s a rather spectacular view. Note the golden, floral metal work on the rails, which is reflective of the influence that nature had in the Art Nouveau practice. The interior of the Horta Museum is quite colorful and decorative throughout, making it a nice place to pause and admire.
The Horta Museum is closed only on Mondays and holidays. Every other day it is open between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tour groups can arrange morning tours, but otherwise, you’ll have to swing by here in the afternoon, which gives you a chance to enjoy lunch on the way over at one of the many fine Brussels restaurants. There is an admission fee to get in, and you can get here easily by hopping on trams at Place Janson, or Janson Square, or catch bus 54. A taxi will also work, though they tend to be a bit on the expensive side.
The Horta Museum is definitely not the only Brussels Art Museum or art-related museum in town. At Mont des Arts, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Brussels experience is second to none if you like quality pieces by master painters, and interestingly enough there is a Brussels Art Museum pertaining to comics and cartoons that is actually housed in a Horta-designed building. Built in 1903, the former Magasins Waucquez warehouse is today the Comic Strip Museum of Brussels. Thanks to past Belgian natives such as Victor Horta, Belgium is an art-lover’s paradise.
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