Best for seeing the next big thing
What Despite being relatively new on the scene, WIELS is considered to be one of Brussels’ most important contemporary art spaces, having held more than 65 exhibitions and hosted some 130 artists in residence since it opened 12 years ago. In true Belgian style, this contemporary hub is based in a former brewery, with its 1930s architecture and copper beer vats left intact.
See this The brewery paraphernalia make a great backdrop to the weird and wonderful events held here – from polkadot-mad Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s installation of pink-and-black blobs, to the Baby Weekend “sensory experiments” for children.
Avenue Van Volxemlaan 354; +32 2 340 0053
Best for thoughtful curation
What Upscale district Ixelles is home to boutique stores, chic coffee shops and perhaps the capital’s most dedicated art collector. Hufkens opened his first gallery aged 22, in Saint-Gilles, before launching his eponymous temple to contemporary creatives in 1992. Back then, the focal point of Belgian art was Antwerp – and this gallery, which has exhibited the country’s brightest up-and-comers ever since (as well as international stars like Antony Gormley and Louise Bourgeois), helped put Brussels on the art-world map.
See this An immersive installation by Chinese artist Zhang Enli takes over the gallery from 6 September-19 October – don’t miss it.
Rue Saint-Georges 6; +32 2 639 6730
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Best for never-seen-before artwork
What This non-profit space, which opened in 2012, doesn’t see itself as a traditional “white cube” gallery. For a start, its five-yearly exhibitions are just the beginning of the venue’s cultural offerings – film screenings, lectures and performances are regularly on the bill, too. Founder Anne-Claire Schmitz instilled a policy of never showing existing artworks. Instead, artists must create brand-new projects to be displayed at the gallery. It’s all part of a masterplan to create a cultural dialogue between artists and the public.
See this Join the conversation over Carey Young’s video installation Palais de Justice, which premieres at La Loge on 5 September and runs until 19 October.
Kluisstraat rue de l’Ermitage 86; +32 2 644 4248
Best for changing mindsets
What Opened just three years ago, the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art is an exciting addition to both the Brussels art scene and the regeneration of the previously run-down suburb of Molenbeek in north-eastern Brussels where the gallery is based. In defiance of President Trump, who called the area a “hellhole” the year MIMA opened, the crowdfunded, canalside centre (in a converted brewery, of course) specialises in urban subculture, from skateboarding and tattooing to comics and advertising.
See this Autumn sees the opening of exhibition Obsessions, which brings together the work of several artists and dots them around a twisting labyrinth.
Quai du Hainaut 39-41; +32 472 61 0351
Best for artist diversity
What Near the Botanical Garden in Sint Joost ten Node is a slightly dilapidated former monastery, with graffiti tags marking its red-brick façade. Those who aren’t in the know walk by without a glance. But inside, an artist-run organisation occupies the high-ceilinged, mosaic-floored chapel and the basement below. Dutch artist Wouter Huis discovered the abandoned building in 2013 when he was a postgraduate student, and transformed it into a studio now used by 18 artists-in-residence, of a variety of backgrounds, ages and nationalities.
See this In September, photographic artist Amelie Bouvier exhibits her project Eight Minutes Ago (13 September-12 October).
Rue Brialmont 11, 1210 Sint Joost ten Node
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Best for getting touchy-feely
What On a narrow street in residential Saint-Gilles, this gallery is indistinguishable from the surrounding apartment buildings. That’s because it doubles as the curator couple’s private home. Kathryn Smith and Ike Udechuku quit their day jobs in law and finance, deciding instead to turn their collection of artworks and furnishings, gathered on their travels around the world, into a permanent exhibit. Unlike in a classic gallery setting, guests can touch the objects and sit on the furniture, mirroring the owners’ belief that art should be used and enjoyed.
See this Mid-century design works and one-off items. Oh, and everything in the house is for sale, so you can even take some of it home with you.
33 rue de Suisse 33; +32 20 3239 2794