Belgium in Brief: The gift of culture – Belgium's Museum Pass

Belgium in Brief: The gift of culture – Belgium's Museum Pass

Whilst it's difficult to imagine a life without culture, recent trends have been to move much of the art we appreciate online – a phenomenon accelerated by the pandemic and pitching many institutions and smaller venues into financial uncertainty. This has been exacerbated by the energy crisis, such that local governments are stepping in to fund energy-saving renovations.

But aside from updating the buildings themselves and ensuring the exhibits are relevant and appealing, one of the most effective initiatives for attracting the public as been the introduction of the Museum Pass, which for a princely €59 gives access to hundreds of museums around Belgium.

Bearing in mind that entry to many museums is over €10, it won't be long before pass holders see the savings. Analysis shows that those with a pass visit the country's cultural centres over four times more than those without. And for every visit, museums receive a fee from the State. Everyone's a winner.

As a non-pass holder, I admit to visiting museums less often than I would like; time constraints and the price of entry combine to stop me going unless there's an exhibition that really catches my attention. But with a pass, there would be no such block and "doing culture" becomes less onerous, not dissimilar to the way streaming subscriptions lower the barriers to watching films that you'd be less likely to see in a cinema.

So with today effectively being a warm-up for Christmas in the form of Sinterklaas (when good Belgian children get edible treats), top of my wishlist this year is a Museum Pass.

Want one too? Let @Orlando_tbt know.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your coffee break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. Oil prices rise as G7 price cap kicks in

Global oil prices rose on Monday as the G7 group of advanced industrial countries implemented a price cap on Russian crude oil. Read more.

2. Who is Sinterklaas and how do Belgians celebrate 6 December?

Whilst in most countries children must wait until the last few days of the year to unwrap gifts below their Christmas tree, in Belgium, they are visited by a jovial old man dressed in red on 6 December every year. But only if they behave, that is. Read more.

3. Museum Pass boosts visits and revenue for Belgian culture

The Museum Pass, launched in 2018 to drive more visitors to museums, is living up to its ambition. Those with a Museum Pass are four times more likely to visit a museum than before, which provides museums with some €1.8 million in extra revenue annually, the organisation behind the Museum Pass reported on Tuesday. Read more.

4. Government to propose 'micro-extension' of Belgium's nuclear reactors

Belgium's Government is set to propose a "micro-extension" of some of the country's nuclear power plants' lifespans in order to overcome a potentially desperate energy crisis in a few years' time. Read more.

5. Over 25% of Flemish people want to vote for far-right Vlaams Belang in 2024

Just over a quarter (25.5%) of people in Flanders say they will vote for the far-right, Flemish-nationalist Vlaams Belang at the 2024 elections. Party leader Tom Van Grieken is now in the top three most popular politicians in the region, a new poll by Het Laatste Nieuws and VTM Nieuws shows. Read more.

6. Price of energy contracts signed in November to fall by 20%

The Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation (CREG) has announced that the latest price of an energy contract that was signed in November will cost Belgians €4,817.56 per year – a 20% decrease on the previous month. However, as it gets colder in the winter, the CREG is expecting these prices to climb back up at the start of next year. Read more.

7. Art and Events in Brussels

A pair of special exhibition rooms at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium seeks to boldly explore two current social matters: the restitution of looted artwork, and the revision of a title to one of Ruben’s masterpieces. Read more.

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