ANTWERP | Middelheim Museum becoming greener

At the end of 2023, the Middelheim Museum will look completely different. Many sculptures will be given a new, well thought-out place in the art park, with better interpretation and signage. In the renewed presentation, extra attention is paid to the landscape elements and the special heritage value of the Middelheim site. 

The City of Antwerp department for Culture and Green are joining forces for the implementation. The removal of concrete and reconstruction of part of the art park is an important intervention.

The art park in transformation

Since the autumn of 2022, major steps have been taken in function of the new collection presentation of the Middelheim Museum. The open-air depot has been constructed and in the meantime some 40 works have been given a new place.

48 high-quality tall trees and no less than 7,500 new shrubs were also planted in the park. This fall, another 6 trees will be added.

The museum team made the selection of works that will be included in the collection presentation, and these works were assigned a location within the thematic arrangement. This was done in collaboration with Studio Moto and Atelier voor groene ruimte: they worked out most of the new scenography and the visual integration of art and planting.

In other words: the preparatory plans are there: with the start of spring, their implementation will also get under way.

New artworks

From the works acquired in 2021 and 2022 for the Flanders Collection, and assigned to the collection of the Middelheim Museum, six works have already been installed in the art park. A dozen more will be installed this year.

In the near future, more works will be transferred to the open-air depot, and works of art will gradually move to their new locations. This will be an extensive technical exercise, the sequence being dictated by the technical and conservative requirements of the respective works.

Alderman for culture Nabilla Ait Daoud (N-VA): “Today we look at the Middelheim Museum and the special role that nature plays through a different lens. Art and park reinforce each other and we want to show that with the new, ambitious collection presentation. In the following weeks and months, many works of art will be given a new place. The whole ‘choreography’ is attuned to the rhythm of nature: the timing for the arrangement of the works of art is adapted to the seasons. We take into account planting, sowing, mowing, breeding and pruning in the park, making the Middelheim Museum a living place all year round!”

‘Softening’ and sustainable green

The department for Greenery of the City of Antwerp is helping to realize the new landscape plan. For example, 2,000 m² of asphalt and clinker paving will be removed in the Hortiflora park section of the Middelheim Museum. This ‘softening’ provides extra green space and better buffering and infiltration of rainwater.

A layer of shrubs will be planted along the edges of the woods, the park area itself will remain an open and extensively managed grassland with wide vistas. It has more than 600 different plant and tree species, including some striking species such as the Chimpanzee Tree, the Persian Parrotia and the Katsura Tree.

The so-called softening started in March. The softened soil is first sown with green manure. This summer they provide a colorful carpet of flowers, in the autumn they are mixed under the topsoil as a natural fertilizer. This is followed by new planting with lawns and adapted shrubs.

Alderman for Greenery Els van Doesburg (N-VA) : “Throughout the years, Hortiflora has been a show garden in which various garden concepts and garden styles were present. Hardening was installed here and there. We are now clearing and greening 2000 m2, making Hortifora greener than ever. The softening also makes Hortiflora future-proof: more climate-robust, with more attention to water infiltration and biodiversity. The city encourages the people of Antwerp to soften their urban gardens, with which we ourselves set a good example.”

Art and museums in Antwerp

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