Musée Royal de l’Armée et d’Histoire Militaire / Koninklijk Museum van het Leger en de Krijgsgeschiedenis

  • Royal Museum of Armed Forces and of Military Hisotry
  • KLM-MRA

History

For the 1910 World Exhibition, Louis Leconte collected about nine hundred objects and called his compilation Musée de l'Armée / Museum van het Leger (Museum of the Army). These objects were to give the visitor an idea of the history of Belgian armed forces in the 19th century.

The exhibition was a big success. Politicians conceived a full fledged and permanent museum and Leconte was ordered to keep the collection. Through a Royal Decree of February 28, 1911, several very rundown galleries in the former Military School in the Bois de la Cambre/Ter Kamerenbos were placed at his disposal.

After World War I, things moved very quickly. The collection grew considerably because of numerous contributions by private persons and through the support of several foreign governments. On June 24, 1919, Leconte (who fought as an officer for 4 years at the Yser) was asked by the Ministry of War to make a selection out of reclaimed war material. Suddenly, the Museum had a new dimension. The building bulged with so many items that new housing was necessary. A new home for these items was found in the northern wing of the Jubilee site. On June 28, 1923, King Albert I officially opened the Military Museum.

In the meanwhile, Louis Leconte had been dismissed from active military service and was appointed head curator. During World War II, the occupying forces closed the Museum down. Only the library was accessible. After the war, the collections once again opened to the public. As far as organisation went, the museum changed significantly. Several departments were established: Military History, Archives and Library, Print Collection and the Photo Department. The scientific team also grew. Suitable displays, analysis and study of the collections resulted in better services.

The Museum was rewarded for all these efforts. Through the Royal Decree of June 11,1976, it became a federal scientific institution of the second level with three departments: Technology, Scientific Documentation and Research. Its general mission is to research, obtain, preserve, and place documents, studies, publications or objects concerning military history at the disposal of the public.

The Museum is in continuous expansion. In 1972 an Air and Space Department was inaugurated and in 1980 an Armoured Vehicles Department was formed. In 1986, an important Arms and Armour collection was transported from the Porte de Hal / Hallepoort to the Museum and in 1996, a new section, the Navy Department, opened. In 2004, the European Forum of Comtemporary Conflicts was inaugurated in the Bordiau Hall presenting an overview of twentieth century conflicts after 1918.

The Museum is dedicated to offering an overview, as complete as possible, of what takes place in the military and its impact on society. It will continue to do so in the future.

Archival and Other Holdings

The Museum officially manages all papers and documents, over 50 years old, belonging to the Ministry of Defence. An extensive archives section is therefore available. The oldest records consist of official and private papers on military history dating back to the 18th century. Personal files and military registration records of officers, non-commissioned officers and regular soldiers are also stored.

Opening Times

Open from Tuesday until Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Weekend and School holidays : 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Closed On Mondays, January 1, May 1, November 1, December 25, and election days

Sources

  • Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History website consulted on 04/11/2014

    Pierre-Alain Tallier (dir.), Gertjan Desmet & Pascale Falek-Alhadeff, Bronnen voor de geschiedenis van de Joden en het Jodendom in België, 19de-21ste eeuw, Brussel, ARA-AGR/Avant-Propos, 2016, 1328 p.