In July, the New York Times described Brussels as a major hub for contemporary art since 2007. “Unlike Berlin, where art is made but generally not bought, or Paris, where it’s often the opposite, Brussels is a city of both commerce and creation,” the newspaper writes. A genuine hotspot where new projects related to contemporary art arise every month.
One of the most passionate projects is certainly the MIMA, Millenium Iconoclast Museum of Art – an initiative that Alice van den Abeele, Raphaël Cruyt and Florence and Michel de Launoit have recently presented. Scheduled to open in March 2016, this brand-new museum will be totally dedicated to contemporary art and the so-called ‘culture 2.0’.
“Culture 2.0 is the version of culture that dawned with the Internet age and the changing means of communication. Culture 2.0 is cross-disciplinary, empathic, collective, collaborative and inspired by intelligent communities like Wikipedia. It covers domains as diverse as graphics and street art, hacking, skateboarding, performance arts, comics or music … Culture 2.0 reflects a new way of thinking; its mobility redefining the links between art and civil society. In practice, the museum will present artists whose choice not to confine their self-expression to the contemporary art community reflect this new way of thinking,” explains Raphaël Cruyt.
The museum will be located in the former Belle-Vue Breweries along the Canal, in a fast-changing district. With a floor space of 1,000 m², divided into eight galleries and a multipurpose space, MIMA will have a permanent collection as well as two exhibitions per year. The project can count on the support of private individuals as well as organisations. The owners of the building, for example, are enthusiastically contributing to the project. They are renovating the building themselves, without any subsidies, to then rent it out to MIMA – a very nice way to promote this type of project. The permanent collection will be composed of 40 works, lent by an association of patrons. It will, of course, not be really permanent as it will evolve in tune with the exchanges between the brains behind the project and the broader cultural world with whom they communicate. This permanent collection will reflect the cultural paradigm shift in our societies in the Internet age.
Moreover, the founders of MIMA are in contact with the Municipality of Molenbeek to integrate the museum into the municipal plans to develop the district and regenerate the social fabric around it. The MIMA is a perfect fit with the Canal Plan of the Brussels region to smarten up the public space, breathe new life into the district, strengthen its diversity and increase its popularity. The Canal Plan includes, for example, the construction of three footbridges across the canal, in order to cross the water divide between the city center and Molenbeek.
Financing will come from three sources: own revenues (tickets, restaurant, etc.), the Association of Friends of the Museum, which will mirror the model used in other museums, and partnership with suppliers and private sponsors. The museum expects to draw 30,000 visitors in its first year and 50,000 visitors by the third year – seems perfectly feasible.
“When I listen to the radio in the morning, I always think to myself that there is something wrong with the world”, Raphaël Cruyt continues. “We can chose between resignation or renewal, change. We need sharing and culture to change the world.”
Alice van den Abeele and Raphaël Cruyt have been running the Alice gallery since 2005. Florence and Michel de Launoit have been setting up numerous cultural projects, like television clips, films, documentaries and other events events through their companies Tourne Sol and Akamusics since 1992.
When we think of all the embarrassing efforts of the Region, the City of Brussels and so many other public instances to launch that possible contemporary art museum that they’ve been talking about for decades, we cannot but admire this private and collaborative initiative and the new, bold vision on what a museum should be. We can’t wait to discover the museum upon its opening in March 2016. Will you be there?