Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum

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Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum

Middelheim Open Air Sculpture Museum (Dutch Beeldentuin Middelheim Museum) is a sculpture park of 30 acres in the park part of the Middelheim Nachtegalen Park at Antwerp.



In 1342, Middelheim is mentioned as a stede geheten Middelheim. Since the 16th century, it was used as a summer residence for rich merchants from Antwerp. In the 18th century, Pierre François Gisbert van Schorel, Lord of Wilrijk brought an important art collection in the castle featuring notable artworks from Rubens and Van Dyck among others.

Then, the estate was ceded to the Knight Parthon de Von where he wrote the Fables and dedicated himself to horticulture. In 1842, it was sold to the Le Grelle family, which sold it to the Antwerp municipality in 1910.


The Middelheimmuseum park is known for its sculpture, which arose from the 'Biennale Middelheim', which was held in the park every two years since 1951. [1] After twenty episodes of this sculpture exhibition in 1989 they decided to choose another way to supplement the image collection. The layout of the sculpture park has the shape of four fluttering strips on both sides of the Middelheimlaan, that cuts through the middle of the park.

The collection comprises two hundred images, including several dozen installed in the city of Antwerp. In addition, the Open Air Museum has hundreds of sculptures which are displayed through temporary exhibitions in the Braem Pavilion. In this pavilion fragile pieces are lined up that can not be place outdoors. The Burgemeester Lode Craeybeckx documentation centre of the sculpture park is located in the Orangerie of the Middelheimpark.

In 2012, the botanical garden Hortiflora with an area of 5 hectares was added to the existing sculpture park. This creates a natural connection to the Nachtegalen Park. On the side of the Hortiflora the architect Paul Robbrecht designed a new half open exhibition building called The House. This is a five meter high transparent semi volume with a clear geometry. In his own words the designer sees the building as an intimate building, populated with temporary residents. It wants to be a space that nurtures and protects. Not oversized, like most contemporary museums but on a human scale: A pavilion that makes possible a temporary one-to-one relationship with art. The planner has also outlined new lines into the existing landscape.


The collection includes works by many leading sculptors of modern and contemporary visual art, among others:

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  1. Openluchtmuseum voor Beeldhouwkunst Middelheim (Antwerp, Belgium) (1969) 10e Biennale Middelheim Antwerpen. p. 13

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Coordinates: 51°10′54″N4°24′49″E / 51.18167°N 4.41361°E / 51.18167; 4.41361