Built in the center of Antwerp’s Eilandje district, the new Museum Aan de Stroom – or MAS – is an extraordinary building, reminiscent of the 16th-Century storehouses that were once typical of the old city’s port. In homage, the Neutelings and Riedijk designed tower has been conceived as a giant warehouse itself, with vertically stacked containers or “boxes” creating an internal spiral of exhibition space. As you ascend, protected by a glass facade, your view of the city constantly changes – culminating in a 360° panorama atop the roof.
Chartered as a contemporary museum “for and about the world,” MAS’s exhibits will draw largely from the Flanders municipal collections: the National Maritime Museum, the Museum for Regional Ethnology, the Ethnographic Museum, and the Vleeshuis Museum. And although the museum doesn’t officially open until May 17, you can get a sneak peek at the building and see the first exhibit on nearby Scheldt quay: sixteen cranes, which chart the incredibly fast technological developments that have transformed the port over the last century. Dating from as early as 1907, this is – dare I make clear? – the largest museum collection of port cranes in the world.