KMSKA celebrates first anniversary

06 septembre 2023 - PRESS RELEASE

After a successful inaugural year, we welcome everyone to The Finest Festivity
On Sunday 24 September, the KMSKA will celebrate The Finest Festivity. Exciting events are planned in the museum and in the museum garden. Whilst the spectacular anniversary cake is being cut, a preview of KMSKA's wide-ranging programme will be given.

A day of festivities

Luk Lemmens, chairman KMSKA: "With The Finest Festivity, the museum wishes to thank its neighbours, loyal visitors, sponsors and supporters for their unconditional support. The opening year has exceeded our wildest expectations in every way, with 620.000 visitors up to the end of August. Our visitors have taken the new museum into their hearts. Every day it buzzes with activity. On our first anniversary, we are adding to that with a unique and varied programme."

Most of the events take place in the museum garden. From 10am to 6pm, visitors will discover tableaux vivants, food trucks, colourful animation, make-up stands, etc. Four renowned Belgian musicians will perform across two stages in the gardens.

From the experimental exploits of Mauro Pawlowski to Tristan's wonderful mix of pop, jazz and ambient. From the deeply compelling Cave-like voice of Loverman to the dreamy jazzy electronica of Oriana Ikomo. Visitors can catch the performances free of charge. Each artist will perform three sets of about 20 minutes.

Lambermontmartre, one of the largest and most fun painting markets, will take place on the museum square. You can pick up a work of art for a reasonable sum. This year, the market celebrates its twentieth anniversary. So this will be an extra festive edition. More than ever, the museum square will be transformed into a corner of Paris.

At 4pm, there is the celebratory cake ceremony. By means of a colourful choreography, it will find its way to the museum garden so that everyone can feast on a piece of anniversary cake.

There will also be plenty of activities in the museum building itself. These include Radio Bart, KMSKA Draws! tours, open studios and guided tours. The activities in the museum are included in the admission ticket.

The Finest Autumn

The first anniversary of the renewed KMSKA also marks the start of a busy and ambitious autumn.

Expo To Gigi (from 24 September to 7 January)

The exhibition To Gigi opens on 24 September. A tribute to Gilberte Ghesquière who bequeathed 131 works of art to the KMSKA. One of the largest donations in the museum's history. The collection includes resounding names such as Pablo Picasso, Le Corbusier, Francis Bacon, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Belgians are represented too. A dreamy landscape by Léon Spilliaert, racy drawings by Félicien Rops, a small painting by James Ensor, watercolours by Jules Schmalzigaug and portfolios by Panamarenko. The collection of small sculpture is complemented by works by Julio González, Pablo Gargallo and Jacques Lipchitz. All works can be temporarily admired in the print room. As per Ms. Ghesquière's wishes, the exhibition will be free to visit on opening day.

Studio Rubens

On 25 September, the restoration of Peter Paul Rubens' gigantic altarpiece Madonna Accompanied by Saints will commence. Due to the gigantic size of the masterpiece, the restoration has to be carried out in a museum gallery. The KMSKA turned this necessity into a virtue and hereby created a special setting. In Studio Rubens, conservators and researchers have been working intensively for months on an imposing scaffold, in order to make the Madonna sparkle like she used to. No doubt this is an extra point of attraction for our visitors, who can follow the restoration step by step from some distance. The Studio Rubens installation also provides ample space for information on the work. After all, the restorers must be able to continue their work in peace and quiet.

Expo Turning Heads. Bruegel, Rubens & Rembrandt.

The first major exhibition at the KMSKA runs from 20 October to 21 January. Turning Heads features masterpieces by Bruegel, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Hals and Vermeer, among others. Not solemn portraits of rulers and merchants, but penetrating faces of ordinary people. In these works, called 'tronies’ (mugs), painters played with headgear, expression, and light. They thus explored the language of the countenance in a time before emojis.

Verheyen and Ensor

We are also already announcing our two major exhibitions for 2024. In spring, we start with Jef Verheyen. Window on infinity , an intriguing retrospective on Antwerp artist Jef Verheyen, one of the last modernists. You will get to know Verheyen as a ceramicist and figurative painter, action painter and creator of cosmic arts. In the autumn, Ensor will take over. In Your Wildest Dreams. Ensor Beyond Impressionism places Ensor's wonderful universe side by side with work by international artists who inspired him and with whom he was eager to compete. It will be one of the largest Belgian Ensor exhibitions since his retrospective at the KMSKB in 1999, and the leading exhibition within the Ensor Year 2024.

More info on these exhibitions to follow.


September will see the return of KMSKA LATE, the museum's vibrant Thursday evening programme. Details about KMSKA LATE and other activities can be found in our calendar of activities.


"With this challenging programming, the KMSKA wants to continue to amaze domestic and foreign visitors. In the years following its opening as well, the museum wants to remain Flanders' cultural hotspot. This is not only beneficial for the KMSKA itself. By doing so, we also provide incentives for visits to other museums and attractions in the city. The autonomous appeal of the KMSKA is growing thanks to targeted efforts of all our stakeholders." - Carmen Willems, general director of the KMSKA


Invitation The Finest Festivity | 24 September 2023

Official opening exhibition To Gigi

9-10am. Breakfast and commentary

10-11am. Visit to the exhibition

Official moment in the De Keyser Hall

4pm. Cutting of the anniversary cake in the De Keyser Hall, in the presence of minister-president Jambon. Followed by a visual spectacle that will move the cake outdoors to be distributed among those present.

Invitation Studio Rubens | 25 September 2023

12 noon. Lowering of the giant work in the Rubens Gallery, in the presence of the experts. Opportunity to interview the experts.

Invitation Studio Rubens | 29 September 2023

From 29 September, the restoration studio in the Rubens Gallery (Studio Rubens) will be fully installed. A huge scaffolding around the gigantic altarpiece that takes up a quarter of the room. You are most welcome to take photos, film or report, and for additional interviews.

Would you like to attend one or more of these moments? Then register now at


Images can be found here.