A HIDDEN GEM FOR NEWCOMERS AND EXPLORERS
SUGGESTED BY ANGELA OESTMANN
I had often heard about this museum, and it was even suggested as an outing by our late member Evelyn Osterweil before she became ill, but I never managed to get there. I figured it might be a good suggestion for newcomers to the Art Déco world of Brussels.
So, we finally made it to this truly hidden jewel where even the entrance isn’t obvious. There is no large sign or flag to indicate where to enter the museum. In fact, from the outside the building doesn’t look very exciting, rather drab in darkish red brick, reflecting the Amsterdam School. Once inside though, being welcomed by a kind volunteer and equipped with CSI-like shoe covers, you enter the first room, the dining room, and your breath is taken away. It is a different world, the world of the late 1920s, in a complete setting of furniture, lamps, wall hangings, flooring and carpets, windows, the table setting, and down to the last detail, the light switches. Many items are original, others are perfect copies, and everything is just plain beautiful.
Going from room to room and up to the first floor, with a bedroom, bathroom, dressing, office (with an enormous desk) and studio one is overwhelmed by the beauty and harmony of this house.
David and Alice van Buuren were a very wealthy couple, with David having made their money via a variety of businesses. The house was completed in 1928, prior to their departure for New York (and as David was Jewish, they returned only after World War II). Thereafter they lived in the house, and subsequent to David’s death in 1955, Alice established a private foundation to which she left the house, works of art, and gardens in her will, which constitute the museum.
While David van Buuren worked with architects and designers on the house, Alice designed the large park-like gardens and continued to add features, one of which is a maze where we promptly got lost in. Some others were to our taste a bit kitsch, like the heart-shaped beds.
Nevertheless, it is a place which merits several visits to the house and the garden. Fortunately, with the Museum Pass you can do so easily.
Last but not least, it may be interesting to note that the foundation is looking for volunteers for different tasks in the house and the gardens. Quite a pleasant place to be a volunteer, I’d say!
Photo credits: Andrea Edwards and Angela Oestmann