Museums
Museums
Museums

Private museum pops up to fill a gap in Brussels

A former brewery on a canal is being refurbished to house a new non-profit contemporary art space

by Hannah McGivern  |  20 March 2016
Private museum pops up to fill a gap in Brussels
Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art
Update: After the terrorist attacks on the city, the museum released the following statement: "Due to the terrible recent events in Brussels and as a sign of solidarity with the victims of the attacks, the MIMA is postponing its opening. It will open on 15 April."

In Brussels, a city with no public museum of contemporary art, an unorthodox private institution is due to open its doors on 15 April. The founding directors of the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art (Mima) are a pair of Belgian dealers, Alice van den Abeele and Raphaël Cruyt. Since 2005, they have represented a roster of international street artists at the Alice Gallery in Brussels.

While many of the same names appear in Mima’s collection of culture created after 2000, the museum is separate from the gallery’s commercial operations, Cruyt says. The pair were inspired to launch a non-profit space by another couple, the film, TV and music producers Michel and Florence de Launoit. “We felt the same attraction to artists working in new media,” he says.

The collection’s scope is “wider than street art,” according to Cruyt. An association of sponsors is providing €450,000 for van den Abeele and Cruyt to acquire “more than 40” works on the museum’s behalf. Between 20 and 30 works by artists including David Shrigley and Barry McGee will be included in the inaugural display. The first exhibition, City Lights, also features installations by the US artists Swoon, Maya Hayuk, Momo and the duo Faile.

The museum has an experimental funding model. The founders do not own the 1,300-sq.m canal-side building—a former brewery—but have rented and refitted it on a shoestring budget of €600,000. They expect ticket sales, the shop, restaurant and events hire to generate a third of revenue, with the rest coming from sponsorship, a friends scheme and, “eventually, some public money for specific projects”, Cruyt says. “We’re not from the museum world or an academic background. We want to find our own way to set up the museum.”

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