Travelling through Middle Ages
Fri 27-09-2019 - Sun 29-03-2020

From September 2019 to March 2020, we will host the travelling exhibitionCrossroads. Travelling through the Middle Ages”. After Amsterdam, Bonn and Athens the Art & History Museum Brussels will show this wide variety of unique and exceptional objects presenting different materials and techniques from all over Europe from the period popularly known as ‘The Dark Ages’. Crossroads throws new light on this misconception, presenting a fascinating image of migration, contact and exchange – of the birth of Europe. Diverse artefacts, going from Visigoth jewellery to parchment manuscripts with Runes and from golden coins from Byzantine Emperors to Coptic textiles with stunning colours and motifs, reveal this cultural exchange.

In the Early Middle Ages, Europe was a place of great change and mobility. The influence of ancient civilisations continued to be felt, while at the same time, new religions from the Middle East began to take hold. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, entire populations (Goths, Longobards, Franks, Avars …) were on the move. This dynamism brought a huge amount of cultural exchange and diversity. The countless beautiful objects from every corner of the continent that can be seen in Crossroads are not only a testimony to the plural identity of Europe, but also to the mutual influence in different spheres: religious, cultural and material.

Visitors to the exhibition see objects ranging from an alluring Egyptian lady on a fragment of cloth from late antiquity, to a fierce Germanic god portrayed on a gilded buckle from a female grave of the Pannonian Avars. Early Christianity is represented by the cover of a sarcophagus from Syria. The sarcophagus, which has been digitally reconstructed, would have contained a saint. The change in religious ideas can be clearly seen in a Byzantine icon which has been painted over several times through the centuries. The Muslim Umayyad Caliphate in Spain is represented by a tenth-century diadem of gold and skilfully worked glass. Pilgrim’s bottles, coin treasures, grave goods, jewellery with precious stones, fibulae, ivory objects, statues, funerary stelae, ceramics, swords and many other marvellous pieces complete the exhibition.

Crossroads uses several themes (connectivity, diversity, heritage of Rome, knowledge, identity, warfare, faith) to bring together top exhibits from leading collections of artefacts from the Early Middle Ages from Belgium and beyond, including the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Spain, … .

Early medieval travellers provide the connection between the themes and the objects and will make the exhibition more attractive and accessible, especially to young people and children. The travellers – actual historical figures – tell their story in an introductory film and the publication accompanying the exhibition, and feature throughout the exhibition itself. Among them the Asian elephant Abul Abbas, a diplomatic gift from the caliph of Baghdad to Charlemagne, who travelled to the imperial residence in Aachen in July 802, but also the clear-sighted pilgrim Egeria who started an extensive pilgrimage to the holy places of Christianity in the eastern Mediterranean in the year 381. These travellers will accompany the visitor throughout their visit.

The museum will offer guided tours and a range of activities that go with the theme. Among them the making of a Viking Boat for children and the possibility to walk into an ‘ArcheoHotspot’ where you can get information on an object that you’ve found in your garden or where you can help the volunteers with archaeological research that has been carried out in the Brussels Capital Region. Schools will be of our special interest during the entire exhibition. We will produce a customized  rogramme that will attract teachers and students from second grade. A special route for families through the exhibition will furthermore encourage dialogue between children and their accompanying adults (parents, grandparents, friends).




Opening hours
Tuesday - Friday: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
closed on Mondays, 25 Dec, 1 Jan, 1 May, 1 & 11 Nov
Last tickets 1 hour before closing time

Entrance fees
€ 15 | € 12 | € 5

Art & History Museum
Parc of the Cinquantenaire 10
1000 Brussels
+ 32 (2) 741 73 31