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To the Antarctic

Belgica's polar pioneers

Come and meet the expedition members of the Belgica. Some 125 years ago, they set off from Antwerp to the last blind spot on the world map: Antarctica. The expedition got stuck in the polar ice and made history as a result. Learn how the men managed to survive, who followed in their footsteps, and what Antarctica is like today.

    Friday 21 June 2024 until Sunday 3 November 2024 from 10:00 to 17:00

Up until then, no one had ever done it: the young, international crew of the Belgica got stuck in the ice, and had to survive in the freezing cold for a year. They fell ill due to poor nutrition and had an extra hard time mentally during the long polar night without daylight. But they continued pioneering scientific research: they mapped new areas with Belgian-sounding names and collected unknown fauna and flora.  

To free themselves, the expedition members did the impossible: with great perseverance, they sawed a way through the ice to free their ship. Just before a second polar winter began, the Belgica set sail back to Belgium. 

In this new expo, you travel with the expedition yourself. Diaries of the crew, beautiful photos and authentic parts of the expedition ship bring this incredible adventure back to life.  

Antarctica is a breathtaking place, but climate change is also being felt on this pristine continent. The expo therefore also takes you to the Antarctic today. You will learn about scientific research and climate, territorial claims and international collaborations. 

The contemporary section of the exhibition was created in cooperation with International Polar Foundation, the foundation behind the Princess Elisabeth Station in Antarctica. 

    Art in the exhibition



    Throughout the exhibition, Dutch artist Esther Kokmeijer invites visitors to reflect on the area. In her artwork 'Terra Nullius', she draws attention to Antarctica's geopolitical protected status.

    As a statement to keep Antarctica pristine, she used correction tape to make all details invisible on almost 50 maps of the continent. With this installation, she talks about the relationship of man and politics towards this piece of nature.


    • A temporary exhibition about the Antarctic and the voyage of the ship Belgica to reach it.
      From 21 June to 3 November 2024.

    See also

    The Antarctic today

    The exhibition also tells the story of Antarctica today. You will find out how scientists are still conducting groundbreaking scientific research there. This topical part of the exhibition was created in collaboration with the International Polar Foundation.

    Guided tours

    To the Antarctic

    Belgica's polar pioneers

    Together with a guide, you will depart on the Belgica, heading for Antarctica. During the tour, you will get to know the research ship's very young crew and how they are forced to spend the winter in the Antarctic. You will also reflect on climate warming on the continent today.

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