Red Star Line Museum re-opens with extended exhibitions


After a three-month closure for renovations to its historical building and exhibition spaces, the Red Star Line Museum is back in business

Safe Haven

Antwerp’s Red Star Line museum re-opened at the weekend following a renovation period that lasted for three months. The renovation included some necessary structural works to the building – the famous shipping lines’ former warehouses.

Although the museum opened just five years ago, the 19th-century building in which it is housed was in need of some additional renovations. The museum also took the opportunity to carry out changes to its café, which has been moved to a new mezzanine, and to the Pilot’s room exhibition space, which has been restructured.

The Red Star Line Museum relates the story of the ferry service that took two million emigrants from Europe to the United States between 1873 and 1934. The permanent collection has also been expanded.

“The final section of the permanent exhibition, devoted to the emigrants’ arrival at Ellis Island, has been augmented with new stories and memories from the families who left and their descendants in America,” says Caroline Bastiaens, city councillor in charge of culture. “The visitors begin to realise that there is simply no end to the stories of the Red Star Line passengers.”

The café in the museum is now also home to the line’s passenger records, which are accessible to visitors.

The new temporary exhibition, meanwhile, brings the story into the 21st century, focusing on modern-day immigrants to Antwerp. Thuishaven (Safe Haven) collects the stories of newcomers, from those who came from another Belgian town to those who came from another continent.

Photo: Victoriano Moreno