Brunch & Culture • Fotomuseum Antwerp
I've been taking photographs for many years now. When I was younger, I used to be obsessed with them because they allow you to freeze the moment, to delude time and capture an image that is per definition fleeting. Nowadays photography has become one of my mediums of expression. For all these reasons, it is only natural I became curious about the Museum of Photography in Antwerp. Combined with a picture-perfect meal, a visit to the FOMU is my kind of 'Brunch & Culture' day!
The FOMU (short for Fotomuseum) has one of the largest photography collections in Europe, both in terms of equipment and images. This is however not what you'll get to see during your visit. Instead, the FOMU presents temporary exhibitions that are into the moment, as their aim is really to inspire people. Whether through the choice of theme or the focus on one particular artist, their exhibitions feel very relevant.
The museum is housed in an ancient warehouse (since 1986) and feels like a creative hub: in the back you can find a movie theater (Cinema Zuid) which screens independent and old movies; in the museum's shop you can find many attracting items and a fine selection of coffee table books; and finally the cafe (Museumcafé PIXEL) is the perfect hipster place to have a drink after your visit, surrounded by plants and minimal furniture.
The exhibition on display when I visited the museum in January 2018 was 'Ai Weiwei - Mirror' (open until February 18th 2018) which is a perfect example of the position of the museum. Ai Weiwei is not only an influential contemporary artist, he's also a real activist and the overwhelming amount of photographs he makes is a way for him to go against Chinese authorities and address present issues such as the refugee crisis. With his countless selfies and active presence on social media, Ai Weiwei is really in touch with society and the fact that the FOMU is the first museum to dedicate a solo exhibition to this artist in Belgium says a lot about them too.
And from culture to brunch... Whether before or after your visit to the FOMU, I recommend pushing the doors of Charlie's (Volkstraat 66). The lovely owner Charlotte, who happens to be the same age as me, worked for years in a chocolate bar in Ghent before moving to Antwerp to pursue her dream of having her own coffee bar. And all I can say is it's a big success!
The place feels very cosy and warm, even though it is housed in a gorgeous mansion, complete with impressive high ceilings and columns. Also, I'm a big fan of emerald green, which is the color that pops up here and there throughout the eclectic interior.
As for the menu, it is mouth-watering, both on the breakfast and on the lunch side. I'm definitely coming back to try the 'Charlie's breakfast', but this time I had a colorful salad with salmon and avocado. And I'm telling you, it was equally delicious as it was beautiful (big praise for the real flowers on the plates). Of course Charlotte's place is known for its hot drinks too, so we stayed a little longer to enjoy one of her famous coffees (at least my friend did) and a unique chai latte with vanilla (that would be me since I don't drink coffee). All in all, Charlie's is a coffee bar that has everything I love!
Both the FOMU and Charlie's are open on Saturday and Sunday. You can park for free on the Vlaamsekaai. While you're there, make sure to look around you to spot two well-known monuments of the neighborhood: the Waterpoort, an impressive gate that was part of the defensive wall that surrounded the city, and the Hollandse Synagogue, the first synagogue to be built in Antwerp.