‘Freight’ and ‘Listen’ exhibitions at MAS in Antwerp 

On Saturday, Museum Aan de Stroom or Museum At the Stream (MAS) in Antwerp opened the new section ‘Freight. About the port, people and cargo‘ on the 6th floor. It replaces ‘World Port. About trade and shipping‘. So it remains in the same theme.

Antwerp and the world.

“Where are the earliest roots of the port city of Antwerp? What cargoes have been going in and out of the city for centuries, and what do the container ships that call at the docks today, carry? Who set sail in Antwerp, and with whom did these travelers meet on their overseas voyages? How did those encounters really work out? Was it equal trade or exploitation? Seafaring brought wealth to Antwerp, but what traces did it leave elsewhere? Antwerp is still one of the biggest European ports. Are the port and its trade ready for the future? ‘Freight’ is the story of a port in the long history of globalisation. From the Vikings to today. A story about glorious periods and extraordinary encounters, but also about the downsides of economic growth”, the MAS introduces the exhibition.

Such introductions are often vague and not really telling what you’re about to see. 

So what do you get to see?

The exhibition takes you throughout Antwerp’s harbour history, with several topics. The transport of timber. Ship building, the Romans and the Vikings, Spaniards and Portuguese, colonial Congo, tobacco and present-day port activity.

Expect models, maps and video presentations. It’s all interesting and well presented. But, as Thanh pointed out, the furniture is not always built properly. Parts were unevenly laid-out, gaps between sections etcetera. Maybe there was a rush in the end?

Listen

“Greedy giants, turbulent love adventures, demons and heroes… If you think you can’t find that in a museum, you’re wrong. In the year of its 10th anniversary, the MAS is presenting exciting and moving stories from Antwerp. Together with writer and playwright Dimitri Leue, the museum is showing the collection pieces in a compelling audio play.”

In a cosy room with pretty shades of blue and wooden structures, you get to hear songs and stories. Some stories are quite hard, such as a Mary succumbing to the flames. Some are both angering and empowering, such as Paul Panda Farnana M’Fumu‘s story. 

But it’s all brought in a somewhat childish manner and the songs are all a bit the same. Differentiating the tone for adults and for youngsters would have been nicer.

Art and museums in Antwerp

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