Normal day-to-day objects, works of art and documents and images from the archives depicting 50 years of European adventure are on display at the Museum of Europe in Brussels. This is achieved though all sorts of multimedia platforms but in particular through portraits of citizens from the 27 member states.
Aged Brussels vision? (Photo: ©expo-europe.be/TOUR & TAXIS)
Incidentally, it is the picture of these individuals that welcomes the visitors as they enter the exhibition. They are photographed in the style of heads of government on an official plaque.
But the history of Europe isn’t just that of its institutions and leaders. ‘Europe is also an area of peace,’ explains Benoit Remiche, the artistic director of the exhibition A Shared Memory. ‘European identity is inclusive, not exclusive. It adds to the other dentities - it doesn’t substitute them.’ The war is part of a memory shared by all Europeans. That’s the other focal point of the exhibition; one hundred pairs of black shoes attached to a line, marching rhythmically, symbolising the horror of war.
Handshake at the end of the tunnel
But the story of Europe is that of the lives of individuals, those of the extraordinary, ordinary folk, just like Inge and Klaus Stürmer who escaped East Berlin on 14 September 1962 through a tunnel dug under the wall.
It is also that of Sandra Kalniete, born in Goulag, who in 1989 organised ‘The Baltic Way’ in Lithuania, a human chain of 630 kilometres made up of one and a half million people and which joined the capitals of the three Baltic states. Or also that of Jean-Louis Beckene, warrant officer from Eurocorps, a contingent of the European Army, who took part in missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Not forgetting the two railway workers Roger Lavis from Britian and Philippe Cozette from France who, on 1 December 1990, shook hands to make the Euro tunnel official.
A series of visual, aural and sensorial exhibits encourage reflection and help the visitors to understand by getting them to interact with the display by, on occasions, inviting them to push buttons. In this way, It’s Our History tells all of the giant steps forward, and also the slips, made by Europe, from its design to each stage of its construction.
Until 12 May. Open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays open 10am to 6pm. Tour & Taxis, 86 avenue du Port, Brussels. Entry costs 15 euros