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Brussels art deco space De Loketten to be converted into visitors’ centre

10:04 27/02/2014

For the past seven years, the Flemish Parliament has organised exhibitions of art and design in a beautiful Art Deco interior in Brussels. De Loketten has housed the work of such artists as Panamarenko and Jan Fabre, as well as the annual Henry van de Velde designers exhibition and fashion and jewellery designers. De Loketten also had a café where visitors could sample Flemish specialities and drink the house beer.

But the parliament has decided to stop organising the exhibitions and turn the space – a former post office building – into a visitors’ centre. “The exhibitions attracted too few visitors,” admitted parliament speaker Jan Peumans in an interview with the website “The cost is extravagant.”

An show last year on comic strips cost €100,000 to mount but attracted just 1,700 visitors. “You might also want to ask whether it is the job of a parliament to organise exhibitions,” Peumans added.

The idea now is to convert De Loketten into a visitor centre for the parliament at a cost of €604,000. University of Leuven historian Emmanuel Gerard has been asked to develop a concept for the new centre, which is expected to have an educational role targetting school groups. “It will show how the parliament works as well as explaining democracy,” a spokesperson said. The European Parliament visitor centre is likely to serve as inspiration. 

Not everyone is pleased with the new project. “Over the past few years, we have constantly been cutting costs,” said Flemish MP Peter Reekmans in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad. “It’s not the job of parliament to entertain visitors.”

Written by Derek Blyth