On Saturday 6th of May 2017, the House of European History first opened its doors to visitors. This €55.4 million project wishes to offer a new perspective on the history of the continent and of the European integration. Rather than going through the history of each European nation, it explores what has shaped Europe as a whole.
After ten years of construction and adjustments, the museum is now exhibiting pieces from over 300 museums across Europe and beyond. The six floors of the museum cover topics such as Europe in the 19th century, the two World Wars and totalitarianism in the 20th century, the European integration.
The exhibition is a technological success: the visitor is encouraged to use tablets and interact with various connected devices, all of which provide useful comments and make the visit fascinating for all generations. It’s also an artistic success. Thanks to the diversity of the objects exposed, the balanced colours and the enriching graphics, the visitor can immerse himself into each presented era.
The project of the House of European History was launched in 2007, by the former president of the European Parliament, Dr Hans-Gert Pöttering, who declared in his inaugural speech that this project aims at enabling “Europeans of all generations to learn more about their own history and, by so doing, to contribute to a better understanding of the development of Europe, now and in the future ». He inaugurated the museum with Antonio Tajani, the current president of the European Parliament, on May 4th 2017, two days before its opening to the public. During his speech at this event, Antonio Tajani declared that “this house is about the things we have in common, the events we have lived through together”.
The pocket guide of the museum stipulates that “we want to explore how history has shaped a sense of European memory and continues to influence our lives today and in the future”. Developing a common memory is the first step towards raising the awareness of a common European identity. As Adenauer once said, “if we want to build a decent and sustainable future, we must not only be aware of the past, it must be at the forefront of our minds at all time.” Beyond this desire to create a common identity, first and foremost, the museum wants its visitors to ask themselves questions, consolidate their knowledge, and challenge their opinions on the European Union.
The museum, located in Leopold Park, close to the EU institutions, was formally a dental clinic. The permanent and temporary exhibitions are available in all 24 languages. The current temporary exhibition will run until 31th of May 2018, and is called « Interactions: Centuries of Commerce, Combat and Creation ». It highlights relevant moments and connects the stories of various individuals to each other.
If you want to make up your own mind about the museum and its exhibitions, the best way is yet to visit it. The museum is opened every day and is free.
For more information, visit the website of the House of European History:
The Brussels Time, « House of European History opened in Brussels », published on May 5th, 2017, URL: http://www.brusselstimes.com/eu-affairs/8157/house-of-european-history-opened-in-brussels
Extract of the inaugural discourse of Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering as the president of the European Parliament: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2004_2009/documents/dv/745/745721/745721_en.pdf
Photo credit: European parliament