I gaze around me in awe as I step inside this museum! It’s a flight into the weirdest fantasy and I have to wonder at the creative minds who have built the flying dinosaur swooping down to attack or the foetus in formaldehyde sucking at an energy drink through a straw. My favourite is the insight into the robot’s inner workings where it met its demise by breaking in two: jeans intact but robotic intestines overflowing. There is a Bluebeard-like refuge with female heads stored in glass bottles. I am everywhere all at once: on a Star Wars set, inside the vilest fairy tale, living my worst nightmare or my most futuristic dream come true? A keen eye and a bit of time are needed to spot all the goings-on in this three-storey converted home ,and an annex, in the heart of Brussels.
Posters are for sale depicting the Africa Museum in Tervuren with menacing crocodiles in the lake, or the Atomium where each sphere represents a stage in reproduction, who pops out but Mannekin Pis. If you want to purchase any of these, do so on site because the museum is divided into two sections, a short walk away onto an adjoining street. Halloween must be quite a site as the witches gather for ‘monster juice’ and to pass their exams for the witch’s certificate. In fact, this test is accessible to all. Everything is explained at the entrance, there are a couple of tasks to fulfil, one of which is to count the skulls dotted about the rooms, another is a touchy-feely test involving groping around in a box and identifying, among other things, body parts. Once you have solved all the macabre riddles, you can pick up your diploma qualifying you as witch.
Check opening times on their website http://www.maisonbizarre.be/ as the museum seems to be run entirely by volunteers and, in particular, the curator’s passion for the weird and wonderful. Opening hours are extended for special occasions like Halloween or Christmas as the worst gifts from Father Christmas go on display (open in December on Saturday and Sunday afternoons). Certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Photos and copyright by Olivia de Vos. First published in the Brussels Weekly