Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Brussels history museum takes European angle

  • The House of European History focuses on common themes in the continent's history (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

The new museum in the European quarter in Brussels tells the story of common themes in the history of the continent, purged by catastrophic wars and edging towards unity.

The House of European History opened its doors over the weekend and awaits visitors with a 24-language tablet guide and interactive installations in the refurbished Eastman Building, in a park behind the European Parliament.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The interactive exhibitions details the destruction of totalitarian regimes (Photo: Eszter Zalan)

The aim is to "find commonality" in the European memory, without dismissing the different national narratives of events.

The museum guides the visitor from 19th century revolutions and national movements through industrialisation, and global dominance, to two catastrophic world wars, through the decades of Cold War, and the ever-more-present European integration project.

The new museum, a project of the European Parliament, cost €55.4 million, and was criticised heavily as being what one British eurosceptic MEP called a "vanity project".

It took 10 years to complete, suffering several delays - it was supposed to open in 2014.

Some feared the museum would try to impose a common narrative over sometimes conflicting European national histories.

EU parliament president Antonio Tajani said last week that the museum is supposed to encourage "debate for a better future".

"Here we don't have a line to take. There are many different messages, our history and our heritage is here, our problems and disasters too," he said.

The exhibition includes Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas's presentation of the EU acquis communautaire, the entire legal text of the bloc, printed on 80,000 pages.

It also has memorabilia of the Brexit campaign, with badges from the successful "Leave" and failed "Remain" teams from last June's referendum.

It touches upon migration, the failed constitutional convention, and the euro crisis, with the audio guide reminding visitors that the "crises are tests of European solidarity".

A Maltese and Greek teacher were happy with the exhibition.

"I would like to take the children here, it is perfect for kids. [But] it was depressing going through the world wars' sections," another visitor, Geraldine, told EUobserver.

"You can see many things here that you can connect with. I just wonder how the exhibition will change after Brexit," Martin from Finland said.

"I didn't see enough to understand today's Europe. It would be helpful to understand why today's Europe is so complicated," said Johannes from Germany, adding there could be better explanation on how much sovereignty EU member states had actually given up.

The EU's mechanism is displayed in a less obvious corner of the exhibition, highlighting the legislative process.

He also missed a better explanation of why there is "tension between extremism and democracy" in today's Europe.

None of the visitors EUobserver talked to thought a common European theme, or EU propaganda had been imposed on them.

The exhibition is free and the collection contains 1,500 objects from 300 museums across Europe and other continents.

Plans unveiled for EU museum

Ambitious plans were unveiled yesterday for an EU museum, which will open in 2006 in Brussels. Among the various attractions on offer will be a café serving dishes from all 25 future EU states.

UK launches first exit in EU history

European Council president Donald Tusk will be handed the Article 50 letter written by British PM Theresa May around 1.30pm. A "historic mistake", said the leader of the EU parliament's main group.

EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency

A resolution demanding Saudi Arabia release prisoners and stop gender-based violence was passed by over 500 MEPs on Thursday in Strasbourg. They also demanded greater transparency over Brussels-based lobbying for the Saudis, following an EUobserver exclusive.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us