The Royal Museum for Fine Arts in Brussels received more than one million visitors in 2019 – an absolute record and 60% more than the previous year.
The museum attributes the increase to its renewed collections, as well as some hugely popular temporary exhibitions.
Chief among these was the Dali-Magritte exhibition, which by itself attracted 130,000 visitors. Such was the popularity of the exhibition that the museum opened exceptionally on Mondays, and the exhibition was extended until 16 February this year.
The museum also took over the permanent collection of the nearby Magritte museum, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2019.
Elsewhere, the museum helped mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of Pieter Bruegel the Elder by sprucing up its Bruegel collection (including the famous Landscape with the Fall of Icarus) and by re-opening the Dutch School rooms after a decade of renovations, with an exhibition featuring Rembrandt and Frans Hals among others.
Another major attraction was the exhibition of works by the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye. Its brocade pigs, Gothic architecture sports cars and stained glass windows – not to mention a machine called Cloaca which replicates the human digestive system – brought in 102,000 visitors.
Visitors from overseas made up 65% of the total, mainly those from France, Italy, the UK, Germany, Japan and the US. The over-60s were the largest age group, making up 25% of visitors, next to the 25-34 age group on 22%.