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New home for Toy Museum after 40 years
Mechelen's Toy Museum will have a new home from the summer of 2022 as it celebrates its 40th birthday. The new location, in the city’s station complex, will make it easier for people to visit by public transport and provide a better link with the city itself.
“Mechelen station will be completely renovated in the coming years and the presence of the Toy Museum gives that renovation an extra shine,” said Patrice Couchard of rail operator NMBS in a statement. “A multimodal hub will undoubtedly encourage many visitors to the museum to make a sustainable mobility choice: the train.”
The museum first opened to the public in 1982, but its origins go back two years earlier: an exhibition on games and toys for the city’s Folklore Festival led to the creation of the Center for Toys and Folk Art, which developed into the museum. From its current base near Neckerspoel station, outside the centre of Mechelen, it now also serves as a link between the toy industry and the cultural sector, and a point of reference for anyone looking for information about gaming culture.
Its new incarnation will be spread over two floors, with an emphasis on interactivity. It is investing €2 million itself in the move, with support from partners including the city and the NMBS.
“In 2022, the Toy Museum will celebrate its 40th anniversary. I can’t think of a better highlight than the creation of a Toy Museum 4.0,” said Bart Stroobants, chair of Toy Museum Mechelen vzw. “I am proud of what we have developed so far, but also happy to overcome a new hurdle. At the new location we can show our collection in optimal conditions and further professionalise our operations.”
Until the move, the museum will remain open at its current location with a range of exhibitions and activities. Although it receives a cultural subsidy, it operates independently as a non-profit organisation and generates 60% of its operating budget through entrance fees. However, the coronavirus has seen its revenues plummet through enforced closure.
“A city is constantly evolving. The relocation of the Toy Museum to the most modern station building in the country is undoubtedly a unique promotion for the visibility of the museum, but it is also a change in the future for the Nekkerspoel district,” said acting mayor Alexander Vandersmissen. “The space that will become available is the engine for the makeover of the Nekkerspoel station area and the final piece in the renewal operation of the entire district.”