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Mont des Arts to get weekly cleanings aimed at reducing graffiti

22:34 15/05/2023

Brussels is looking to discourage graffiti artists from targeting Mont des Arts by implementing weekly clean-ups.

“Tagging will be a thing of the past from now on,” said federal state secretary Mathieu Michel (MR), who oversees the Régie des Bâtiments, the federal body responsible for public buildings and monuments.

A previous strategy to combat graffiti at the important heritage site involved designating a space where it was permissible, Bruzz reports. But this will no longer be the case.

“The tags are an unacceptable scar on one of the most visited and emblematic sites in Brussels,” said Michel.

“Graffiti damages the image of our country. This site must regain the prestige and cleanliness it deserves. It's like scratching school desks: if you don't do anything about it, everyone will keep doing it.”

The cleaning has already begun. The areas covered are not just the facades of buildings such as the Royal Library, the Dynasty Palace and Château Moderne, but also the statues of Albert I and Queen Elisabeth on Place de l'Albertine.

The facades of the Musical Instrument Museum and the Magritte Museum will also be tackled, as will the buildings on the Place du Musée.

Having to constantly clean the graffiti results in a small amount of damage to the places where it was painted.

“I first use a chemical stripper, which I leave to work until the colour softens,” explained Michaël Quensier, a sandblaster.

“Then I use the machine – it's a karcher with very high pressure and a temperature of 150 degrees. I clean with hot water. Afterwards, depending on the result, I either sand or it stays like that.”

But the operation leaves a mark.

“The stone, by dint of being sanded, is pecked,” said Quensier. “This creates small holes. In fact, it looks clean but it is a little bit damaged.”

After the initial cleaning, an anti-graffiti protective layer will be applied to all the buildings on the Mont des Arts and its surroundings.

The initial clean-up will last about a month, after which weekly checks will take place for one year, with any new graffiti being removed.

“We are in the process of installing surveillance cameras,” said Michel. "Together with all the competent authorities, we are thinking about having, in the long term, if necessary, human, physical presences such as guards.”

The cost for the whole operation is in the region of €277,000.

The Régie des Bâtiments also announced an enhanced cooperation between the various managers of the site, including Bruxelles Environnement, the City of Brussels and Bruxelles Propreté.

“Besides cleaning graffiti, one of the priorities now is to get the big fountain on Mont des Arts back in operation,” Régie des Bâtiments announced.

“The dossier to appoint a contractor to restore it is currently in preparation.”

Written by Helen Lyons