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Belgium's first video game museum opens at Tour & Taxis

Video gamers play on an arcade console (BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK)
09:50 20/10/2020

The Pixel Museum, Belgium’s first video game museum, opened its doors to the public on Saturday in the Customs House of the Tour & Taxis site in Brussels. The 1,000m² space features hundreds of machines, merchandise and 50 playable consoles.

The exhibition is based on the collection of video game enthusiast Jérôme Hatton, who has amassed more than 20,000 pieces, including consoles, games, accessories, and associated merchandise. It is reported to be only the seventh of its kind in the world.

The museum has 250 machines including those manufactured by household names such as Nintendo, Playstation and Xbox, and some which have never been marketed in Europe. More than 2,500 other exhibits, which will be updated and added to, include rarities such as Atari’s notoriously ill-fated ‘ET the Extra-Terrestrial’ game – often blamed for bankrupting the company – and more modern games like Mario Brothers and Street Fighter.

Visitors can play on more than 50 consoles and terminals, ranging from retro classics such as Space Invaders and Pong, to more recent consoles and arcade cabinets.

“The concept is to preserve, and to show everyone what video games are, all their history, the technique, the art and the innovation that can be behind it,” explains Jérôme Hatton.

However, there is no question of just letting these objects gather dust on the shelves. "You will be able to play, you will be able to touch, experiment… it is important,” he added. “We take the risk of leaving the public with terminals like the Space Invaders, and the original Pac-man. We hope people will take care of it. But it's important to bring that to life. It's a bit like In Toy Story… toys are made to be played with, not to stay in their boxes.”

The Video Game Museum was originally located in Schiltigheim, near Strasbourg, France. It was closed last July in the absence of any prospect of development and then moved to Brussels.

“Brussels is a laboratory where space is always created for innovation and creativity,” said Pascal Smet, State Secretary for European and International Relations and Foreign Trade. “That is why I am delighted with the move of the Pixel Museum to our capital,” he added.

“The audio-visual sector is still too often underexposed and underestimated in the Brussels Region as a means of export and economic added value,” said Smet. “We are going to change this in the coming years.”

The Pixel Museum will remain at the Customs House until the beginning of 2021, when it will move once more, settling in a different part of Tour & Taxis, where it will be given a larger space.

Written by Nick Amies