Belgian Beer World, a new museum dedicated to the history and love of beer making in Belgium, has opened in the neoclassical building that once housed the Brussels Stock Exchange.
The museum opened its doors to the public last month, with celebrations that included beatboxing, breakdancing, acrobatics and other entertainment in Place de la Bourse, the square outside the stock exchange building.
“From its historic basements to its spectacular rooftop Skybar, the Brussels Stock Exchange has been completely rethought and renovated,” museum officials said in a statement.
“Its spectacular nave, completely revamped, has been transformed into a place where the people of Brussels can live, meet and relax. And the upper floors are home to the brand-new Belgian Beer World, the largest interactive beer center in the world!”
The museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the year but New Year’s Day. Adult tickets are 17€, or about $18. Access to the building itself is free. The museum hopes to receive around 400,000 visitors a year.
Krishan Maudgal, the head of the association Belgian Brewers which contributed to the museum, told Bloomberg that the highlight of the tour is a visit with a virtual bartender that will help people “discover the great diversity of colors and flavors that Belgian beer has.”
“Visitors will be guided through the concept of taste, a sense that is both universal and above all personal,” Maudgal said.
Belgian architect Léon-Pierre Suys designed the building between 1868 and 1873 and the city demolished a number of breweries on the banks of the Senne River for its construction. The stock exchange operated at the site until 1996 upon its merger with the Amsterdam, Lisbon, and Paris stock exchanges into Euronext.
The larger site, now known as The Bourse, has undergone a €90 million ($96.5 million) renovation. The museum takes up much of the building but it will also include a restaurant, co-working spaces, and a rooftop bar as well as shower facilities, toilets, and lockers, according to Belgian Beer World’s website.
The site includes an archaeological museum underneath the building featuring the remains of a 13th-century Franciscan coven that is also said to house the burial site of Gambrinus, the legendary king fabled in at least one tale to have invented beer making.
The renovation was undertaken as part of a broad public-private partnership between a long list of entities that include the E.U.’s European Regional Development fund, Belgium’s federal government, the city government in Brussels and 103 separate breweries.
The Bourse and the museum operate as private companies but are under public control.
“In Belgium, we always had the tradition of creating balanced beers that are in harmony between flavor, taste, and aftertaste,” Geert Van Lierde, who consulted on the museum’s exhibits, told Bloomberg.
“Maybe that’s due to our history—that we have been invaded by lots of nationalities. You always have to look for compromise.”
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