Belgian Kunsthalle to Transform Into Flemish Contemporary Art Museum

Renovations will include a new entrance, reading room, and library.

M HKA . Courtesy M HKA

Renowned Belgian Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (M HKA) is undergoing structural and conceptual transformation to become an international center for contemporary art with a focus on Flemish art and artists, specific to the region of Flanders, in Belgium.

Belgian minister for culture Sven Gatz seeks to transform M HKA from a kunsthalle into a Flemish Contemporary Art Museum with a permanent collection and has set aside €300,000 for the renovations.

“Over the years, in Flanders many important art works and archives of several [now] deceased artists were collected,” Gatz says in a statement released by M HKA. “The right expertise is needed to manage the work of an artist, for example through estates. M HKA’s new framework also offers the museum opportunities to give the artists’ archives a central role and to centralize their management.”

From its reopening on April 28, 2017, the museum will be showing a core collection which will be accessible to the public free of charge, alongside changing exhibitions in a separate space. In addition, the museum building will be remodeled.

Designer Axel Vervoordt will collaborate with architect Tatsuro Miki to create a new combined entrance, library, and reading room, and labyrinthine exhibition galleries.

The permanent collection will comprise artworks by Flemish artists as well as international artists including Panamarenko, Luc Tuymans, Cady Noland, Jimmie Durham, James Lee Byars, and Jan Fabre.

“The second floor will still host group or thematic shows, such as ‘A Temporary Institute of Futures Studies,’ opening simultaneously with the new collection presentation in April 2017,” Bart de Baere, director of M HKA, told artnet News.

“On the ground floor, we will have three temporary exhibitions besides the permanent collection: the IN SITU space, with up next Peter Wächtler; one space for monographic exhibitions, with up next ‘Evgeny Antufiev – Immortality forever’; and finally one space for smaller presentations, with ‘Urgent conversations: Antwerp-Athens’ opening next. In total you will see four temporary exhibitions and one permanent collection presentation when you visit the museum.”

M HKA is known for putting on adventurous and Avant-garde exhibitions such as their recent show “Rave,” which focused on 90’s rave culture, as well as artist retrospectives such as Kerry James Marshall, Chantal Akerman, and Craigie Horsfield. The museum’s statement hails a new era for the institution which aims to have wider appeal and attract a more “broad and diverse audience.”

The renovation is a collaboration between the Culture and Tourism ministries with Tourism Minister Ben Weyts contributing €600,000 towards the M HKA renovation project with a view to promoting contemporary Flemish art on an international level.

“The Flemish Masters are timeless icons of Flemish craftsmanship,” Weyts says in the statement. “We are now investing heavily in order to better play this trump card. That way, we can entice a wide audience from around the world to visit us.”

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