21st Mar 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case

The European Commission repeated that it followed the rules when its former head joined Goldman Sachs - and suggested it will not follow the EU Ombudsman's demand to refer the case back to the ethics committee.

News in Brief

  1. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  2. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  3. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  4. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  5. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad
  6. Norway's far-right doubles support as minister resigns
  7. Sarkozy held for questioning on Gaddafi funding
  8. EU leaders expected to approve Brexit future talks guidelines

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverHiring - Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience - Apply Now!
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  2. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrest Malta bank chair
  3. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  4. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  5. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  6. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus
  7. EU to probe UK 'election-rigging' firm
  8. 'Denial' - is meat the new climate change?