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Covid, climate, colonial legacy: House of European History expands with new look at Europe's challenges

07:00 17/05/2021

Brussels’ House of European History has expanded, with the opening of a new permanent exhibition space looking at the challenges facing Europe today.

Europe Now opened to the public to coincide with Europe Day, 9 May. Located on the sixth floor of the museum, it is the perfect complement to the museum’s permanent exhibition and is divided into six major themes: The Great Issues of Our Time I & II, On the Trail of My Europe, The Vortex of History, Europe Seen From the Sky and Listening to Europe .

The exhibition, which combines interactive installations and contemplative spaces, is made up of a dynamic collection of videos, photos, objects and works of art, all accompanied by audiovisual commentary in 24 different languages.

“Here visitors are invited to interact, participate and reflect,” chief curator Andrea Mork tells The Bulletin. “What binds us as Europeans? What does Europe represent today? What challenges do we face and are we able to meet?

“It’s a space where we can discover commonalities, interrelationships and interesting parallels, but it’s also a space where we can explore our differences.

“Europe Now does not sidestep any of the continent's contradictions. By taking a critical look at our prejudices and giving us multiple perspectives, the exhibition encourages us to reflect on what European identity means, or could mean.

“Our aim is not to offer some sort of pre-defined, carefully prepared and easy-to-consume European identity. In this space, the public has the opportunity to carefully and attentively question their own preconceptions about Europe.”

The exhibition highlights the many challenges Europe faces today, including climate change, its colonial legacy, Brexit and the Covid pandemic.

Part of the exhibit features an interactive map that allows visitors to view their links across Europe. "On the Trail of My Europe" shows very concretely the scale and density of Europeans’ daily connections. With "The Vortex of History", visitors can add their thoughts and feelings of Europe to the many inspirational quotes from writers and thinkers featured in the representation of a vortex on display near the museum's central staircase.
City life - an essential aspect of the European way of life - is represented by an innovative blend of photography, art and webcam images. The public has the opportunity to reflect on parallels and differences, creating their own galleries where they combine images from the past and present of 50 major European cities.

The House of European History opened in May 2017, in Leopold Park. The galleries of the permanent exhibition immerse visitors in the history of the 19th and 20th centuries, leading them to discover the process of European integration.

The public can discover the origins and evolution of Europe through a simultaneous examination of the diversity of the continent and the multiple historical interpretations of this evolution. Admission to the museum is free.

In order to respect the sanitary measures in force, visitors are required to wear a mask (for those over 12), undergo a body temperature check on entry, using a non-contact thermometer, and book their visit by phoning 02 283 1220. The House of European History has received the Brussels Health Safety Label, which means that visitors can enjoy the museum under optimal conditions.

Written by Richard Harris