Hidden Belgium: At home with an eccentric Belgian artist

Hidden Belgium: At home with an eccentric Belgian artist

An intimate museum devoted to the provocative Ostend artist James Ensor occupies the terraced house where his aunt and uncle once ran a souvenir shop. Ensor lived in the cramped apartment above the shop from 1917 until his death in 1949.

The ground floor is filled with an odd collection of shells, masks and other seaside souvenirs, while two upstairs rooms contain Ensor’s battered harmonica, masks and puppets.

A major renovation in 2020 by Belgian architects noArchitecten added a large Ensor Experience Centre next door. It contains a reconstructed studio, reproductions of paintings and an account of the artist’s strange life.

Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.


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