The “Dutch Gallery”, the first part of the Historic Gallery, deals with the period between 1815 and 1830, when the unification of the Great Netherlands - called for by Europe - first becomes a reality with the Battle of Waterloo (1815), and is overthrown 15 years later by the Belgian Revolution. It literally and figuratively paves the way for the Historic Gallery.
A museum within the Museum
The Historic Gallery was officially opened in 1923 and is thus one of the Royal Military Museum’s oldest exhibition rooms. The layout remained quite untouched over the past 100 years. The collection items set aside, the gallery and its layout therefore are a true museum within the Museum. Alongside wonderful collections about the Belgian army between 1831 and 1914 this gallery shows what museums looked like almost a century ago.
More than eight thousand collection items await your discovery! Overflowing display cases with colourful uniforms and headgear remind us of a period when military practices were not yet determined by camouflage colours. Huge portraits and busts of influential military leaders, impressive guns and countless regimental flags also mobilize attention.
Moreover, the Historic Gallery displays a unique collection of personal souvenirs from the first two Belgian kings. Both Leopold I and Leopold II were commander-in-chief of the Belgian army and were given a showcase each in the gallery, filled with numerous uniforms and personal belongings. Additional eye-catchers are Leopold I’s camp bed and the tricycle on which King Leopold II rode on the dike in Ostend at the end of his life.
A window on the world
The Historic Gallery also offers a fascinating and unique window on the world. Display cabinets with exotic souvenirs tell the story of the Belgian (military) presence in Italy, Mexico, Africa and China. The room is a portrait of Belgium in the 19th century, a glorious period when the country was one of the great industrial powers.