ModeMuseum, Antwerp (2003)

artdesigncafé - design | 10 February 2010
{This article was previously published in }Interior Design{ April 2003, p. 56, with the title "House of Antwerp".}

Dries van Noten, Ann Demeutemeester, et al., may have turned Antwerp into an international fashion center, but the Belgian city’s fashion museum itself was far from central—located in an out-of-the-way suburb. That museum’s collection has now found a home in the ModeMuseum, part of the buzzing ModeNatie complex designed by architect Marie-Jose Van Hee to house MoMu as well as Antwerp Polytechnic’s fashion department, a brasserie, and a bookstore.

MoMu occupies 100,000 square feet within an 1890s hotel building. Van Hee transformed its original triangular courtyard into a skylit lobby with walls and staircase clad in horizontal runs of merbau wood. Beyond are a fashion library, a reading room, offices, an event hall, and a conference room as well as a 13,000-square-foot main exhibition space. The inaugural show, "Selection 1: Backstage", showed pieces from the southern Netherlands and Flanders over the course of six centuries. A smaller gallery displays contemporary work, putting today’s Antwerp in clear fashion perspective.