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New Atomium director plans to develop monument as cultural hub

09:28 29/03/2021

The Atomium has a new director, with an objective to attract new visitors with an innovative artistic programme, positioning the monument as a developing cultural centre.

The deputy director-general of the Atomium, Julie Almau Gonzalez, will take over the management of the monument from 1 April, initially for a one-year mission.

The Atomium, which attracts 650,000 visitors a year, is gradually recovering from a black year due to the impact of the pandemic.

"We welcome nearly 200,000 Belgian visitors, which is a lot, but it only represents a third of our audience," said Gonzalez.

"We want to implement a new dynamic in our relationship with the public and our cultural programming is part of it. Up to now, we have used 'Belgianness' as our main theme with exhibitions on Magritte, Brueghel, the Smurfs etc.

“We want to evolve away from nostalgia to attract a younger, local audience and make the Atomium a festive, event-filled place that people will want to revisit often.

"We are planning a tasting area developed with our catering partner and will offer shows and concerts of classical music, jazz and electronic music.

"For years now, one of the spheres has been a sleepover destination for kids. We are investigating the possibility of creating an overnight programme for adults.

"We want to make it the place to be for electronic music and digital arts. We will still be a showplace for Belgian talent, but of a more contemporary nature."

The current temporary exhibition ID#2021 – Symbol which opened last week is emblematic of the type of programming they will focus on since it gives pride of place to the digital arts with its spectacular dreamlike light and sound show.

Written by Richard Harris