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Brussels Art Nouveau masterpiece Hôtel van Eetvelde opens its doors to the public
The listed Art Nouveau building Hôtel van Eetvelde on Avenue Palmerston in Brussels has opened its elegant doors to the public following five months of specialist renovation work.
Designed by pioneering Belgian architect and designer Victor Horta, the Unesco-listed monument welcomes visitors for free visits or guided tours on Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets can be bought online via visit.brussels or on site.
The opening is a flagship event for Brussels’ Art Nouveau year, an extensive programme dedicated to the style movement in the region.
One of the restoration highlights is the monumental glass dome of the winter garden, an emblematic example of Horta’s preoccupation with introducing natural light into buildings.
While the overall renovation work was carried out by Horta-specialist and architect Barbara Van der Wee and her team, the dome was entrusted to Ghent-based workshop Mestdagh.
The public opening was accompanied by the unveiling of the new Art Nouveau promotion and interpretation centre, LAB·AN. It houses various activities, including a current exhibition on the links between the architectural movement and colonisation. This topic is pertinent to the property because it was commissioned by Edmond van Eetvelde, diplomat and adviser to King Leopold II. In 1885, he was appointed General-Administrator for Foreign Affairs of the Congo Free State.
For the elegant and stylised interior, Horta used materials from Congo, while several motifs reference the former colony, such as mosaics adorned with vines, and the depiction of plants and flowers in the structure of the dome and its stained glass windows.
Hôtel van Eetvelde actually consists of two buildings with the corner town house constructed later to house the office of Baron Edmond van Eetvelde. The flamboyant mansion, where the dome is located, belongs to the Synergrid federation.
The Brussels Region acquired the corner property in 2022 thanks to a €3.5 million financial package by the federal Beliris fund. After financing the restoration project that cost more than €1.3m, the region is now considering embarking on further renovations, including the refined facade.
“The opening of the Hôtel van Eetvelde to the public is a great day for all Art Nouveau lovers, and for all those who want to discover this art movement in the heart of our capital,” said Karine Lalieux, federal Minister for Beliris.
"Brussels breathes Art Nouveau. This art movement has helped shape the image of our city since 1890. At the end of the nineteenth century, Victor Horta and other brilliant architects and artists lit a fire of renewal in architecture and the arts," added Sven Gatz, Brussels minister responsible for the image of the region.
Hôtel van Eetvelde joins other architectural jewels open to the public in the capital, Hôtel Solvay, Maison Cauchie and Hôtel Hannon.
Photos: Hôtel van Eetvelde ©Visit.brussels; Glass dome ©Belga/Adrian Burtin; Brussels region minister Sven Gatz, Brussels alderwoman Karine Lalieux and Brussels region state secretary Pascal Smet ©Belga/Adrian Burtin