Museums of the Far East

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Museums of the Far East
Musées d'Extrême-Orient (French)
Musea van het Verre Oosten (Dutch)
0 Laeken Pavillon chinois 1.JPG
The Chinese pavilion of the museum, housing the collection of porcelain and ceramics.
Museums of the Far East is located in Brussels
Museums of the Far East
Location within Brussels

Avenue Van Praet/Van Praetlaan 44

B-1020 Laken, Brussels
Coordinates 50°53′38″N 4°21′36″E / 50.8939°N 4.3601°E / 50.8939; 4.3601
Owner Royal Museums of Art and History

The Museums of the Far East (French: Musées d'Extrême-Orient, Dutch: Musea van het Verre Oosten) is the name of a complex of three museums in Laken, Belgium dedicated to Oriental art and culture, specifically that of China and Japan. Both museums are run under the direction of the Royal Museums of Art and History (KMKG-MRAH).

These museums are currently closed because of structural weaknesses.[1]


The idea for an outdoor display of oriental buildings, open to the public on the site, originated with King Leopold II, who had been particularly impressed by the "Tour du Monde" panorama at the Paris World Exhibition of 1900.[2] The French architect Alexandre Marcel was commissioned to build a Japanese pagoda (known as a ) in 1901, and it was later inaugurated in 1905.[2] The Pagoda stands nearly 50 metres (160 ft) tall, across the road from the rest of the museum buildings.[3]

Work on a larger Chinese Pavilion began in 1905. The building was intended to be a restaurant, but never served the purpose for which it was intended. In 1909, the original plan for a museum was abandoned and the building was donated to the Belgian state, where it served as part of the Trade Museum of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[2] From 1947 until 1989, the whole area was closed to visitors.[2] The museums' section on Japanese art is housed in a building near the Chinese pavilion, originally intended to serve as a stable and garage for the complex.

The Museum complex is situated near to the Royal Palace of Laeken, the official residence of the King of the Belgians.


The Museums of the Far East collectively refers to three separate museums situated close to each other which can be accessed on the same ticket. They are:

  1. The Chinese Pavilion
  2. The Japanese Tower
  3. Museum of Japanese Art

One of the principal focuses of the museums' collection, Chinese porcelain and other chinoiserie, is housed in the Chinese pavilion. The Pavilion's displays focus on Chinese art originally designed for export to the West.[4][5] The Chinese Pavilion is situated in a Chinese garden.

The Japanese Tower displays Japanese art, mostly porcelain created for export to the West. It is situated within a replica Japanese garden. The Museum of Japanese Art contains the bulk of the museums' collection of Japanese art and displays several suits of Samurai armour, Netsuke and decorative sword hilts, as well as prints and other artifacts. It is situated in the complex's carriage house and has only recently opened to the public.[6]

Temporary exhibitions are also regularly held at the museum.[7] Further examples of Asian art are also held my the KMKG-MRAH at the Cinquantenaire Museum in Brussels.



  1. ^ "25-10-2013 | KMKG". 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2014-06-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Official History". Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Clericuzio, Peter. "The Shifting Meanings and Uses of the Japanese Tower at Laeken". Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "La porcelaine chinoise d'exportation". Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  5. ^ "Museums of the Far East". Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Collections". Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Exposition Passée: Les douze heures des maisons vertes et autres beautés". Retrieved 3 April 2013. 

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