Ouverture du Art & Design Atomium Museum



Ouverture du Art & Design Atomium Museum

Past: December 11, 2015 → January 5, 2017

Adam art design atomium museum brussels bruxelles joe colombo grid Ouverture du Art & Design Atomium Museum à Bruxelles A Bruxelles vient de s'ouvrir le Art & Design Atomium Museum, un espace d’échange moderne unique et un projet muséal global qui, au-delà de l’originalité de la présentation d’objets en plastique colorés, tend à s’imposer comme un centre d’art de premier plan.

The Plasticarium — Permanent exhibition

The Art & Design Atomium Museum has a surface area of around 5,000m², almost half of which is to be devoted to the permanent collection of the former Plasticarium, which kept its name. It comprises more then 2,000 pieces ranging from everyday objects to works of art via designer items. A stool, a desk, an alarm clock, a lamp… we tend to forget that not so long ago plastic was everywhere. This permanent collection, known as “The Plasticarium”, is the only one of its kind in the world and offers a rich contribution to the cultural dynamism of Europe’s capital city. The collection was created by Philippe Decelle, an ardent enthusiast ; over the years, he has accumulated several thousand items dating from the golden age of plastic in the early 1960s to the post-modern era, via pop art. As the area devoted to this collection cannot contain all the items, the display will be rotated on an annual basis, so that visitors will be offered a different experience with each new visit to the exhibition.

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Joe Colombo, Vue de l’exposition permanente © ADAM — Christophe Licoppe / Befocus

Philippe Decelle. A practitioner of the plastic arts meets plastic.

In 1987, Philippe Decelle rescued a Joe Colombo chair from a dustbin. What led him to reflect on the society’s short memory.

It prompted him to launch his Plasticarium collection in the heart of Brussels. Developed by an ardent enthusiast, this collection is the only one of its kind in the world. Over the years, Philippe Decelle has accumulated several thousand plastic items, from 1960, when the first piece of furniture made entirely from plastic was produced, to 1973, the year of the oil crisis. The collection has been extended to the post-pop era [1987-2000]. Although various major museums have already exhibited its key pieces, few Belgians are familiar with this collection, including items from every aspect of daily life, from TV sets to couture creations. Admirers of famous designers will find original work by Joe Colombo, Verner Panton and Eero Aarnio. Fans of contemporary creations will see works by Philippe Starck, Charles Kaisin and several others, both known and unknown, not forgetting the irreplaceable Tupperware products.

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Bruxelles Art & Design Atomium Museum, Vue de l’exposition permanente © ADAM — Christophe Licoppe / Befocus

The architectural project

The Lhoas & Lhoas Architectes practice was established in 1994, and over the past twenty years it has carried out a great many projects in Belgium and abroad, all highly varied in both scale and type. These include the extension of the Palais des Beaux Arts in Charleroi, the renovation of the Socialist Party headquarters in Brussels, several contemporary art galleries and a large number of transformations to shops, not only in Brussels, but also in Paris, Lyon, Aix en Provence and Bordeaux.

To achieve the successful completion of the ADAM project, the Lhoas & Lhoas practice has formed a partnership with museographer Thierry Belenger, one of the leading Belgian specialists in 20th century design. Alexandra Midal, design theoretician and historian is also part of the team. The furnishings in the interior were selected in partnership with Vitra. Delta Light takes care of the lighting.

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Bruxelles Art & Design Atomium Museum, Vue de l’exposition permanente © ADAM — Christophe Licoppe / Befocus
Heysel, Atomium and Trademart

The museum is situated on the Heysel Plateau, between the Atomium and Exhibition Palace 5. It is located in the beautiful, little known building, created by the architect John Portman, which houses Trade Mart Brussels. This is a very low construction, sober in design and somewhat set back from the public areas; this presents a problem regarding the visibility of the entrance. The ADAM therefore propose to give this entrance greater prominence within the city landscape of the Heysel Plateau, highlighting it with the construction of a large archway in the western corner of the site.

Making the best use of the existing qualities

The quality of the building lies in the simplicity of its vocabulary, its outsize dimensions and its radical structure. The ADAM therefore feel it would be advantageous, both architecturally and economically, to promote these characteristics. The museum is preserving or re-using as many existing elements as possible, maintaining the impression of a ready-made site. The sliding frames in the corridors would be conserved or re-used; the ceiling, with its sections formed of concrete slabs would be left as it is, as would any disparities in the paintwork there, and on the preserved supporting pillars.

Organizing functions around existing structures

The design makes use of the existing partitions and the few areas with views onto the exterior. The two large preserved corridors form two galleries, which mark out the exhibition areas, the stock and storerooms, and the administrative section. The auditorium is situated within the entrance area in a room with already existing partitions. The entrance hall, cafeteria and temporary exhibition area benefit from sweeping views onto the exterior and the Grand Palais, and therefore contribute to the museum’s visibility.

A simple, adaptable and reliable exhibition system

The neutral architecture and modular structure of the building forms the perfect background for adaptable and varied exhibition furniture. The ADAM propose to create a toolbox comprising assorted elements (stands, temporary walls and display cases), which are easy to move and install, in order to exhibit the large amount of objects in the collection, whatever their size.

Integrating stock into the exhibition

Due to the size of the collection (over 2,000 objects), it cannot be presented in its entirety in a permanent exhibition area. The existing, preserved glazed partitions allow us to display the reserve stock, which became a fully integrated part of the planned exhibition environment. This system of integration also facilitate the large-scale annual rotation of the objects on display.

Conceptual links between the objects

Rather than presenting objects in a chronological fashion, or according to theme or colour, the museum thought it would be more relevant to establish conceptual, social or even philosophical links between the items. In this way, the main theme of the scenography is based on the question of significance; this is highlighted by establishing connections with other disciplines and /or other categories of objects.

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Bruxelles Art & Design Atomium Museum, Vue de l’exposition permanente ADAM — Christophe Licoppe / Befocus

The main exterior staircase by Jean Nouvel

The multi-dimensional creations of Jean Nouvel reflect his approach within the tradition of conceptual, visionary architects. A city planner and architect, he is also a designer and rejects all categorization: “I make no distinction between designing a chair and conceiving a building; I see each project in itself as a total design process. For each new question that arises, I seek out the most “fundamental” form of the object, and the final result correspond to the very “essence” of the idea. It should form a fitting, unique response which reflects our era and civilization culturally and technically.”

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Jean Nouvel, Escalier principal, 2015 © ADAM — Christophe Licoppe / Befocus

Temporary exhibitions

• Eames & Hollywood. 10.03.2016 > 04.09.2016

• Artview#4. A view on contemporary art : a private collection. 21.04.2016 > 19.06.2016

• Intersections #4. Belgian Design (This edition of the biennale is being organised in partnership with the Centre d’Innovation et de Design au Grand Hornu [CID].) 16.09.2016 > beginning 2017

Art & Design Atomium Museum Art center
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Place de Belgique

1020 Bruxelles

T. +32 [0]2 475 47 64

Official website

Opening hours

Every day except Tuesday, 10 AM – 6 PM
Fermeture de la billetterie à 17h30

Admission fee

Full rate €10.00 — Concessions €8.00

6€ pour l’exposition temporaire