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Masterplan for upgrading Cinquantenaire park is approved

10:15 23/05/2024

The masterplan for redeveloping the Cinquantenaire park in Brussels has been approved by the federal council of ministers, opening the way to €160 million worth of renovations.

Almost €89 million of those funds has already been released by the government, RTBF reports.

The federal government commissioned Beliris to start architectural studies to make Cinquantenaire Park “a beautiful site fit to celebrate our country's bicentenary,” state secretary Thomas Dermine (PS) said, adding that investments would also be made in museum and research infrastructure.

The park’s makeover is expected to take until 2030 to complete, just in time for Belgium’s 200th anniversary celebrations which will be held there. The hope is that visitor numbers will climb to one million by that time.

The aim of the first phase of the plan is to improve access to the various museums: two entrances will be built on the Schuman side and a circuit will take visitors along the arcades and the triumphal arch.

The basement of the Esplanade du Cinquantenaire on the Merode side could also be developed and opened to the public, depending on the results of studies investigating the financial and technical challenges that have yet to be carried out.

The Halle Bordiau will be emptied of its cultural/museum pieces and transformed into a large agora for the bicentenary celebrations.

“The intention is to house a permanent exhibition space there from this summer until 2030,” Dermine said, adding that one exhibition will highlight the “identity, diversity and perspectives of our country”.

This aspect of the plan has sparked backlash, with some criticising the decision to remove the permanent collection of about 3,000 objects from a relatively new and expensive museum – built in 2019 at a cost of over €7 million.

Critics also say that in light of rising political extremism, the museum’s purpose is more important than ever.

Authorities say the collections will be preserved in the best possible conditions, but provided no further details.

Written by Helen Lyons