The Museum of Fine Arts is the only building designed by Victor Horta that was originally intended to be a museum. It is also one of the few public commissions bearing witness to the architect's transition from Art Nouveau to Art Deco. The project for the museum came about from the collaboration between the philanthropist Henri Van Cutsem, who wanted somewhere to ensure his art collection would be kept safe, and the sculptor Guillaume Charlier and Victor Horta. The idea was raised for the first time in1903 but it was not until 1928 that it finally came to fruition. The building's genesis was complex, as the result of successive preliminary drafts being designed by the architect and then reworked to create an increasingly ambitious set of buildings, which in turn threatened the budget allocated for the work. Building did not begin until 1913, only to be halted during the First World War and afterwards for a total of 10 years. In 1923, Victor Horta took the matter in hand again by simplifying his last design for the sake of saving money. The museum, as inaugurated in 1928, consists of a relatively sober building with only a few decorative elements in the entrance portal. The portal itself features a monumental group of statues by Guillaume Charlier. Passing through the large entrance hall, visitors come into large rooms radiating off the entrance and topped by extensive glazing. These windows provide an unusual form of overhead lighting and end with a majority of blind walls featuring decoration that was kept very limited for budget reasons.
Exceptional heritage site of Wallonia