Family who owns Stoclet Palace legally obliged to allow public access

Family who owns Stoclet Palace legally obliged to allow public access
Credit: Belga / Herwig Vergult

The Brussels Parliament has approved the opening of Stoclet Palace – a UNESCO World Heritage site – to the public despite opposition from the building's owners.

The directive was approved by a majority vote. It was tabled following multiple failed attempts by State Secretary of Heritage Ans Persoons (Vooruit) to come to an agreement with the Stoclet family, who still own the property. The new arrangement establishes limited public access to the site for a maximum of 15 days a year.

"In recent years we have opened several Art Nouveau buildings to the public," the Minister posted on X (formerly Twitter). "This order is the completion of our policy and will allow controlled visits to the Stoclet Palace in the future."

Located on Avenue de Tervueren, Stoclet Palace is considered an Art Nouveau gem. It was built in 1911 and inhabited until 2002. UNESCO added the site to its World Heritage list in 2009. However, due to the building's fragile condition the family has opposed public access at every turn.

Political opposition

French-speaking liberal party Mouvement Réformateur (MR), Flemish right-wing N-VA and far-right Vlaams Belang all opposed the directive.

Anne-Charlotte d'Ursel (MR) expressed concerns that the directive would deter potential buyers and heritage enthusiasts through measures that she believes infringe property rights. Mathias Vanden Borre (N-VA) called for the family to appeal the directive, which will be implemented if no other agreement is reached.

Last year, Persoons facilitated a digital reconstruction of the building's interior in the Art and History Museum following on from an exhibition about the building's architect Josef Hoffmann. The project ran until 14 April and was also hotly contested by the Stoclet family.

Inside of Stoclet Palace. Credit: Ans Persoons' office

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