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Visiting the Fine Arts Palace, Liège, Belgium: remembering the Universal Exhibition of 1905

Updated on March 5, 2012
Flag of Belgium
Flag of Belgium | Source
Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, Liège
Modern and Contemporary Art Museum, Liège | Source
Architect Charles Solubre
Architect Charles Solubre | Source

Now houses a distinguished art collection

This striking building is situated in Liège, in Belgium's Walloon region (French: Région wallonne ).

Some history and features

The structure was formerly the Palace of Fine Arts (French: Palais des Beaux-Arts ), built for Liège's Universal Exhibition (French: Exposition universelle ) of 1905.

This fine building was designed by Liège architect Charles Soubre (1846-1915) and by Architect Hasse of Antwerp. Among the features of this balanced, symmetrical design — executed into a permanent structure, alone among those of the Universal Exhibition — is a rotunda adorned with allegorical reliefs.

The building is set in Boverie Park (French: Parc de la Boverie ), situated on the southern tip of Outremeuse Island (French: Île d'Outremeuse )(1) within branches of the Meuse River. This Park contains a significant rose garden.

The Universal Exhibition took place in 1905 for the 75th anniversary of Belgium's independence. The exhibition was a grand occasion, and was opened by a choir of 800, which sang a specially commissioned cantata by local composer Jean-Théodore Radoux (1835-1911).

Art collection

The former Fine Arts Palace now houses the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (French: Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain ). (A local love for acronyms causes this institution to be referred to as MAMAC.)

Works on display at the museum include those by Corot, Pissarro, Picasso and Vlaminck. Works of Belgian artists include those of Van Rysselberghe, Ensor and Claus.

A program of renovation at the Museum was carried out in 1993.


(1) Because of its unusual geographical location, Outremeuse Island, which gives its name to a suburb of the city of Liège, has caused local humourists to refer to the fictitious République libre d'Outremeuse (Free Republic of Outremeuse).

Also worth seeing

The city of Liège has numerous visitor attractions; these include: The Perron; the Bueren Mountain; the Cointe Basilica and other, fine ecclesiastical architecture; the equestrian statue of Charlemagne; the Fragnée Bridge; the Zénobe Gramme monument.


How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York (JFK) to Brussels Airport, where car hire is available (distance from Brussels Airport to Liège : 94 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company SNCB maintains a service from Brussels to Liège . Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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