The MAS – Antwerp’s largest museum. A must-see.

Fantastic artifacts from around the world at the ‘Museum on the River’ in Belgium.

The Belgian city of Antwerp is a seaport and the world has been sailing into it for five centuries. A few days ago, I visited one of its new dazzling city districts where I discovered the MAS – the “Museum aan de Stroom”.

Have you ever heard of it before? Well, I had not  … but was I ever impressed when I saw this amazing new icon of Antwerp, which truly amazes and surprises the visitor. Built on the city’s once-abandoned old docks, the Museum on the River brings together several public and private collections and exhibits precious artifacts from around the world.


The concept behind the architectural design scheme of the MAS tower is to “emphasize the heaviness of the city’s history”. The sixty-two meter high sandstone and glass tower was designed by Dutch architects Neutelings Riedijk. I was fascinated by this checkered, rusty red skin tower consisting of ten gigantic natural stone trunks.

The architects covered the facades, walls, floors and ceilings of the tower with large panels of hand-cut red Indian sandstone from Agra, India. “Every storey has been rotated a quarter turn, creating a gigantic spiral staircase”, explains Interior designer Marcia Argyriades. “This spiral space, in which a facade of corrugated glass is inserted, forms a public city gallery.”


About the MAS project:
Surface area: 20.000 square meters floor surface, 11.500 square meters outdoor construction
Construction costs:  € 33.409.000
Location: Hanzestedenplaats | 2000 Antwerp | Belgium
Principal: City of Antwerp in cooperation with AG Vespa
Design: International Competition | 1st Prize | April 2000
Start construction: October 2006
Realization: February 2010

Architectural design: Neutelings Riedijk Architects | Rotterdam | The Netherlands

For further information and reference, check out the following great article:


First exhibition of Contemporary Russian sculpture in the Netherlands

37 Artists at ‘Russia XXI’ in The Hague

Strolling through the Dutch city of ‘The Hague’ this week, I came across the work of thirty seven Russian artists whose projects have been exhibited this Summer.  In contemporary sculptures, the exhibition Russia XXI’ presents the longings, poetry, grimness, humour and tragedy of the Russians.  The exhibition, which has been organised in partnership with the National Centre for Contemporary Arts, NCCA in Moscow, is the first large special exhibition of contemporary Russian sculpture in the Netherlands.

With more than one hundred works by the major Russian artists of the past thirty years, ‘Russia XXI. Contemporary Russian sculpture’ aims to offer an impression, as comprehensive as possible, of today’s Russian sculpture. In Russia, the 21st century started early, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union after 1989.

All of the selected artists were born and educated in a society with a turbulent history, in towns and cities where there were monuments to a war or a communist hero on every corner. Their parents were soldiers in a war and they themselves were young pioneers. They may have had Grandparents who were state councilors under Tsar Nicholas II or wealthy land-owners. The sculptural works on display in The Hague mirror the history and ambitions of Russian society.

What were the reasons for the organizor for choosing Russia? “Russian artists play an important part in modern sculpture”, says the Sculpture and Beelden aan Zee Museum. “Sculpture underwent a very interesting development in the past forty years – as in the entire Russian art world there are heated discussions on ideological and social aspects – but here scarcely anything is known about it.”

Alexander Taratynov's personification of the Siberian River Ob is the subject of the sculpture here. A female figure in grey stone depicted as a water drinker evokes the massive beauty of the river and links it to the water.

Alexander Taratynov’s personification of the Siberian River Ob is the subject of this sculpture.  A female figure in grey stone depicted as a water drinker evokes the massive beauty of the river and links it to the water.

The artists reflect on a Russian identity that is western or hails from the Asian plains and react to the changing power of the symbols that in turn are given new meanings. They examine the idea of the artist as a utopian worker who explores his artistic boundaries and finally they anxiously anticipate the end of times, as a metaphor for a mystical Russian soul. Past, present and future are inextricably linked in the world of these sculptors.

Please click here for a list of the participating artists.

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