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House of European History opens new exhibition space - Europe Now

26 Aib 2021

The House of European History opens its new permanent exhibition space, Europe Now,  on the 9th of May. A significant date, as it also marks the Opening of the Conference on the Future of Europe, taking place on Europe Day. Located on the 6th floor of the historical building in Brussel’s Park Leopold, it offers a light, tranquil space to reflect on Europe’s most recent history and what it means to be a European today.

The new, thought-provoking space is complimentary to the rest of the museum’s permanent exhibition. It allows visitors to place themselves in the centre of the story of Europe. Chief Curator, Andrea Mork explains, “Here, visitors are invited to interact, participate and reflect. What binds us together as Europeans? What does Europe represent today? What are the challenges we face and are we rising to them? It’s a space where we can look at communalities, interrelations and interesting parallels, but also at existing differences.”

From considering the many challenges facing Europe today – climate change, its colonial heritage, Brexit and the Covid pandemic, to name but a few – to images of Europe as seen from above, the exhibition includes a dynamic blend of film, photos, objects and artwork, all accompanied by audiovisual commentary in 24 languages.

Spanning 6 main themes, ‘Headlines of our time I & II’, ‘Tracking my Europe’, ‘Vortex of History’, ‘Europe from the skies’ and ‘Reaching out to Europe’, the exhibition offers an intelligent mix of interactive installations and contemplative spaces.

Europe Now does not shy away from any of the continent’s contradictions, but leads the visitor on a consciousness-raising journey. Critically looking at biases and offering multiple perspectives, visitors are encouraged to reflect on what being European is, and ultimately, could be. Mork adds, “Our aim is not to offer some kind of a predefined European identity, carefully curated for easy consumption. Here visitors get the chance to question - in a careful, thoughtful way - their own preconceived images of Europe.”

Part of the exhibition is an interactive map, where visitors can visualise their links across Europe. The ‘Tracking my Europe’ map shows the scale and density of our connections in daily life. In another part, the ‘Vortex of History’, visitors can add their thoughts and feelings on Europe to the many inspiring quotations by writers and thinkers originating from the vortex displayed in the museum’s central staircase.

City life, a key element of the European lifestyle, is represented through an innovative blend of photography, artwork and webcam images. Offering a playful way to reflect on parallels and differences, visitors get to create their own galleries, combining historical and present-day images from over 50 cities in Europe.
To end, a relaxed sofa area allows visitors to, literally and figuratively, recharge their batteries. A place for discussion both online and off, it’s a logical end point to this fascinating platform for reflection, conversation, exchange and critical thinking. A community space will allow for programming activities in collaboration with various community groups.

Europe Now opens to the public on the 9th of May, at the House of European History, 135 Belliard, Brussels.