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Almost five million visitors: Record year for Brussels museums

09:06 11/01/2024

Brussels museums saw record attendance in 2023 with at least 4.98 million visitors – an increase of 20% over 2022.

The figure is slightly higher than that of 2019, the year previously considered to be the best on record.

The count represents tourists and locals alike and is welcome news for a sector that had to struggle through the coronavirus pandemic.

“Each month of 2023 saw an increase in the number of visitors compared with 2022, with clear peaks in spring, summer and at the end of the year, corresponding to the holiday periods,” said Brussels Museums.

“The figures show that tourists are undoubtedly returning to the capital's museums. Museums that usually attract foreign tourists have recorded significant growth.

"Sales of the Brussels Card, the Brussels city pass, have broken all records - 19,742 Brussels Cards sold in 2023, compared with 18,364 in 2019.”

Partly helping the resurgence of visitors to cultural sites is the opening of several new museums, including Belgian Beer World, along with the reopening of sites such as the Magritte Museum, which had been under renovation.

Last year was also the year of Art Nouveau in Brussels, meaning a variety of special events and temporary exhibitions.

Sales of the Art Nouveau Pass alone meant more than 13,300 visits to partner museums and exhibitions.

“Brussels Museums, the federation of Brussels museums, is delighted with these more than positive results and enthusiastic about 2024, which promises to be just as exciting,” the organisation said.

“Highlights will include Brussels and its museums celebrating the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the 100th anniversary of surrealism with a number of exhibitions organised in collaboration with other European institutions.”

The Atomium also saw a record-breaking year in 2023 with at least 840,000 visitors, half of them being Brussels residents.

French and German tourists continue to make up the bulk of foreign visitors - 16% and 11% of all visitors respectively.

Visitor numbers from the Netherlands are reached 4% - and thanks to the revival of international tourism, Americans (3%), Brazilians and Indians (2%) were also among the monument's visitors.

The previous peak was in 2022, with 662,000 visitors in a single year.

Early December also saw the milestone of the 10 millionth visitor since the attraction’s reopening in 2006.

“While visitors continue to be positively surprised by the architecture of our national icon, this success also confirms our creative strategy and rewards the work of our teams, who are always on the lookout for unique and attractive programming – 2024 is sure to be just as promising,” said Zoubida Jellab (Ecolo), chairwoman of the Atomium's board of directors.

Written by Helen Lyons