Museums in Antwerp

Past, Contemporary and 300 Years of Printing Activity

Here are 3 museums in Antwerp for you to consider on your next Antwerp city break:

  • The UNESCO listed Plantin Moretus,
  • The contemporary photo museum in the South
  • A look to the past with the Ethnographic Museum.

Plantin-Moretus Museum

One of the most famous of museums in Antwerp. Plantin-Moretus was the first museum in the world to be put on the Unesco heritage list. More exciting than it sounds, this is one of the most exceptional of all Antwerp museums. Both a home and a shop it chronicles more than 300 years of printing activity.

Plantin Moretus hosts the oldest surviving print press in the world together with complete sets of dies and matrices. It’s amazing to see that even today, the equipment still could be used.

The famous printer Christoffel Plantijn lived in Antwerp in the 16th century and was renowned in Europe for quality books and prints. He founded his company and transformed cottage-house printing into a pre-industrial enterprise.

His son in law, Moretus, would be his successor and the family Plantin-Moretus would dominate this business for the next few hundred years. In 1876 a descendant sold the house to the city that made it into museum.

  • You’ll find an impressive library with manuscripts and first prints of 16th century books.
  • Their most famous books include a Librorium Prohibitorum, which lists books the church declared unfit for Christians, and a Biblia Regia, an eight-volume bible printed in several languages.
  • The company also invented two typefaces – Garamond and Plantin.
  • Also on display are family portraits by Rubens and Mercator maps.

Mercator was the fellow that found a way to project a 3-dimension ball on a two dimensional paper also known as: the Mercator projection. It appeared to be quite useful to make maps and travel to other continents).

The museum and this whole area was badly damaged In the Second World War. Luckily enough - it could be renovated. Now it is one of the best museums-in-antwerp and in 2005 it became the first museum in the world to be put on the UNESCO Heritage list.

Open: Tuesdays - Sundays 10 am - 5 pm. (Open on Easter Monday and Whit Monday).

Closed on Mondays (reading room open), and 1 and 2 January, 1 May and Ascension Day, 1 and 2 November, 25 and 26 December.

Neighborhood: The old city
Plantin-Moretus Museum
Vrijdagmarkt 22-23
Antwerp 2000
32 3 221 1450

Getting to museums in Antwerp:

Tram 2, 3, 4, 8, 15 and Bus: 22, 25 and 26.

Get off at Groenplaats. 
From Groenplaats walk down Nationale straat as far as the first traffic lights; then turn right into Steenhouwersvest.

The first street on the right will take you to the Vrijdagmarkt square. The large building across the square on your left is the Plantin Moretus Museum with the City Print Collection.

By car: follow signposts for Antwerp City Centre, direction Groenplaats car park. Alternative parking facility: Brabo car park (Kammenstraat)

Museums in Antwerp TIPS

Free access on each last Wednesday of every month.

The museum can supply audiocassettes to guide you through the museum at your own pace. They are for free.

Admission fees may vary in case of temporary exhibitions.

Photo Museum(Provinciaal Museum voor Fotografie)

The Antwerp photo museum, since recently housed in an old warehouse, is a real treat. A wide range of national and international photographers and artists exhibit their work in the photo galleries and at exhibitions.

The museum for photography charts the evolution of photography from black and white to color and from analogue to digital cameras with the help of an important collection of cameras and old photographs. Here you will fin old prints and cameras and examples of daguerreotype and wonderful holograms.

  • You can visit either individually or in group.
  • There are workshops and activities for all age groups.

In the musum’s library there are more than 35,000 titles on offer plus an extensive range of magazines and a wealth of documentation on Belgium and foreign photographs.

Directions to museums in Antwerp: The museum is located in the south part of the city.
Nearest tram stop: Museum (line 8) De Vrierestraat (line 4) Amerikalei (line 12)
Nearest bus stop: Zuid (Line 23)

Address: Waalse Kaai 47
Antwerp 2000
Phone: +32 3 242 9300

Neighbourhood: The South/'t Zuid

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm
Closed on Mondays
Closed on 25 and 26 December and on 1 and 2 January

Museums in Antwerp TIP: The Museum’s shop is also worth a longer stop.

Ethnographic Museum of Antwerp


The museum building on Suikerrui 19 was closed on June 28, 2009, and the collection was moved to the new municipal museum of Antwerp, the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom). Which  opened its doors on May 17, 2011 to the public. The information below describes the museum at it's old location, the pictures are from MAS

The Ethnographic Museum (Etnografisch Museum)
 of Antwerp highlights non-European ethnic groups from Africa to Asia and Oceania to the Amerikas.

The total collection, which was started in 1864, now comprises some 33,000 objects and it is still constantly being added to. It includes items that document the daily life and arts of many African, American, and South Seas cultures. The collection is thematically organized.

Central items are:

  • sculptures and masks from Western and Central Africa and from various Pacific ethnic groups
  • feather attire and mask-costumes from the South-American rainforest
  • pre-Columbian textile and stoneware from Meso-America and the Andes
  • sculptures and paintings from India and the Himalayan culture
  • lacquer ware, ceramics, prints and weapons from the Far East.

Highlights include masks and other wooden sculptures from Africa, feather headdresses from the Amazon, pre-Columbian pottery, sculptures from India and bronze and scroll paintings from the Himalayas.

The Ethnographic museum also has a very varied collection of textiles from every corner of the world. Some of the pieces items that illustrate the creativity and sophistication of these far-flung communities are absolutely unique.

Return from museums in Antwerp to Antwerp City Highlights

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Return to Gone Belgian 

Search Belgium Tourist Guide
Custom Search

Hotel Search

A fantastic tool to find Hotel Deals - it searches and combines prices + availability from all major travel sites at once and finds the cheapest.

Click to buy direct from hotels or your favorite travel sites.

Book Eurostar from Rail Europe