With themed routes, mystery tours and scavenger hunts, this is a National History Museum with a difference – you won’t find anyone urging children to be quiet here.
The building itself has its own interesting story and since being constructed in 1776 has been everything from a hotel – which counted European Royalty as guests! – to refugee housing for Congo nationals. In 1977, to mark 175 years of Belgian Independence, the King Baudouin Foundation funded a conversion project which transformed the three floors of the Belle Vue Hotel into the museum it is today. The comprehensive collection covers every aspect of Belgium’s rich and varied history, giving detailed accounts of the country’s role in both World Wars, colonialism and its nineteenth century revolution.
Though full of fascinating artifacts, documents and treasures, the BELvue aren’t afraid to admit that children often need a little bit of encouragement to enjoy museums and have developed some fail-proof methods to keep everyone involved and entertained.
All of the tour options – most of which are self-guided – have been designed with families in mind, the full list of which can be seen here.
Our favourite BELvue tour is the Mission Impossible Tour (ages 7 to 12), the mission – if they dare to accept it – is to crack open a safe full of treasure by finding the code with the help of an ‘informant’, who makes contact via a mini-DVD player.
Other options including everything from the Become An Explore! scavenger hunt, to Bon Appêtit, a lesson in Belgian culinary history for the whole family. Pre-booking tours is recommended, especially during the busy summer months.
In recent years, excavation projects have revealed access points to Coudenberg Palace, an ancient structure buried beneath the museum. Like the BELvue, Coudenberg focuses on providing fun family activities, many visitors opt for the combination passes which offer discounted entry when visiting both attractions.
Top tip… On the first Sunday of every month the museum opens it doors for free.