The Historic Gallery is one of the oldest exhibition spaces of the Museum. It is dedicated to the Belgian army between 1831 and 1914. The enthralling story of the Civic Guard is also told there.
Over eight thousand collection items wait to be discovered! Showcases packed with colourful uniforms and headdresses recall a period when military fashion was not yet subjected to camouflage. Enormous portraits and busts of influential officers, impressive guns and countless regiment flags also draw the eye.
Moreover, the Historic Gallery presents a unique collection of items belonging to the two first kings of Belgium. Both Leopold I and Leopold II were commander in chief of the Belgian army and therefore received a special showcase, filled with uniforms and personal possessions. Additional eye-catchers are Leopold I’s camp bed and the tricycle Leopold II used in his twilight years in Ostend.
The Historic Gallery also offers an exiting and unique window on the world. Showcases filled with exotic souvenirs tell the story of the Belgian (military) presence in Italy, Mexico, Africa and China. The gallery is a portrait of 19th century Belgium, a glorious era in which the country belonged to the great industrial powers.
The Historic Gallery is often nostalgically described as a “museum within the museum”. The gallery was designed in the 1920s along a 19th century concept and in spite of several later renovations still oozes the charm of times passed. But from a museological point of view the gallery also is a product of its time. In the past museums did not work with storage facilities, as each and every collection item was put on public display.
In the years to come the Museum plans a renovation of the Historic Gallery. Great care will be taken not to disturb the specific character of the exhibition space. As a lot of museums from that timeframe have been remodelled and refurbished the Historic Gallery offers a unique insight in the museum methods of years gone by.