Dear fellow DE’s and regular forum readers,
After already having viewed the Historium building a couple of times to get to know the layout of my new working place I finally got to visit the actual attraction yesterday afternoon. I assume some of you will visit Historium sooner or later, but I thought I’d give you all a short report of what to expect, so we can all inform our forum users when questions are asked.
Be prepared, it's a rather long story, but it does contain some new useful information.
Historium officially opens on Sunday 25 November 2012, but last week has seen several other openings for VIP’s, special guests, the Bruges tourism industry (that’s me), project stakeholders and a selected group of 1435 Brugeans. Not a random number, as the story of the attraction takes place in 1435, fifteenth century Bruges.
Let me just quickly recap again what Historium is all about. Historium is an all-encompassing attraction where sets, film, music and special effects merge into a 35 minutes visitor experience. Throughout 7 thematic rooms, all your senses will be stimulated while you follow the story of Jacob, a young apprentice of the renowned painter Jan van Eyck, who falls in love with Anna, a handsome girl posing for Van Eyck’s latest masterpiece: The Madonna with Canon Van der Paele. All set in Bruges’ golden age.
There’s a couple of things you need to remember about Historium.
First of all, and this is really important to accurately inform future visitors: it’s not a museum, but an attraction. Without giving any details away I can best compare it with the queuing at a theme park. To make waiting pleasant theme parks often already let you glimpse the atmosphere of an attraction by “dressing” the queue areas. Historium goes further though and takes it to the next level with (among other) its film, music, special effects and authentic materials to create the rooms.
Secondly, Historium strives to be the starting point for all Bruges visitors. It’s an entertaining and light introduction to the city, accessible to all. Don’t expect to be swamped with numbers, historical facts or reading panels. Historium pleasantly guides you through a more or less random day in Jacob’s life and thus allows you to experience certain aspects of how people lived in 1435. The attraction itself lasts 35 minutes, a deliberate choice as the majority of day trippers only spend 5 to 6 hours in Bruges. Buses from the train station literally drop you off at Historium’s doorstep. You get out of the bus and step into Historium.
And last but not least, Historium is more than just an attraction. While the attraction is only half an hour you can spend more time in the building. There is an after show highlighting the history of Bruges and further explaining things seen in the attraction. It also shows you where to find locations that are linked to the show in present day Bruges. This part is more traditional in terms of transmitting information, but still manages to be interactive. The after show also holds the entrance to the highest balcony (this is the second floor, third for American readers) from which you have a stunning view over the Market square. I tell you, this is a must see. Keep your cameras ready!
In Duvelorium, the beer café which also has a balcony (first floor, second for American readers), you can have one of numerous Belgian beers, including the local Brugse Zot beer. Duvelorium is sponsored by Duvel beer, so they sell several Duvel items including a specially designed Historium Duvel beer glass.
It’s not a tourism law, but it’s a given that you always exit through the gift shop. Historium holds a gift shop and a chocolate store (this is Bruges after all).
In addition you can find a tourist office in Historium as well (that’s my department) with a city explorer. The city explorer is an interactive data base which holds everything there is to know about Bruges. You can transmit information to your smartphone or tablet and thus compile your own portable wish list of things to visit. Three people at a time can use the data base. In the future this data base will also contain information about other Flemish art cities, it is still a work in progress.
Historium has its own information desk as well, so any questions about ticketing, the attraction, group visits and so on can be addressed to the person manning the Historium desk.
Furthermore there are public toilets in the basement (0,50 euro) and lockers (ground floor and basement). The lockers are easy to use and do not require money, just a 4 digit code you can come up with yourself (enter the code twice to lock the door, enter the code once to open it). It’s interesting to know that the lockers are public as well. For instance: a family with a baby buggy wants to make a horse carriage ride or sightseeing tour by bus (both depart from and end on the Market square), but they obviously can’t take the buggy with them. Now they can store the buggy in the Historium lockers and collect them after the tour.
The inner court yard of Historium holds an amphitheater where you can relax and hang around. This will be an official meeting point for guided walking tours, so you’ll probably come across tour groups here. The court yard also leads to the vending machines and ATM.
Let's hope you will never see the inside of it, but there is a first aid room as well on the ground floor. The top floor holds offices and staff quarters.
When you first enter Historium a lush carpet on your right will lead you to the shops, tourist office and Historium information desk, ticket machines and attraction entrance. You will also pass the grand staircase, the lift and come across a large screen where you can watch a making of featurette. The carpet btw is the one seen on Jan van Eyck's painting, just google "jan van eyck canon van der paele" and put it on images. They had it made especially for Historium.
If you go straight ahead after entering you will end up on the court yard.
Remember that the entire ground floor and basement area (tourist office, Historium desk, Historium ticket machines, toilets, lockers, gift shop, chocolate store, ATM, vending machines) and Duvelorium are accessible without an entrance ticket. Anyone can walk in at any time, during the opening hours.
The attraction and after show can be found on the first and second (second and third for American readers) floor. There is an elevator in the building, so wheelchair users can use this to move through the building and attraction.
To visit the Historium attraction you will need to buy a ticket. As the attraction is highly timed you will need to visit in time slots and use an audio guide. There is a time slot every 4 to 5 minutes, which means you never have to wait very long. Each time slot can hold a maximum of 24 people.
The audio guide, which is included in the ticket price, is available in 9 languages (Dutch, French, German, English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Mandarin (Chinese) and Japanese, incl. two kids channels in Dutch and French). The audio guide is very easy to use (just plug in your headphone and adjust the volume to your liking, that’s it) will tell you when to move from one themed room to the next. It’s important to be on time for your time slot, if you miss your time slot your ticket becomes invalid. So it’s best to be in Historium about 15 minutes in advance. You can check in a couple of minutes before the time on your ticket. There is no need to announce your visit at the Historium desk, you scan your ticket and move through the turnstiles where you wait till the attraction invites you in. Staff is of course available when you have problems. They can easily be recognized as all men and women wear a medieval inspired tunic.
Tickets can be bought online or at the ticket machine (a really cool replica of the top of our Belfry tower) inside Historium. The ticket machine shows all available time slots. So you can for instance buy a ticket in the morning and come back in the afternoon for the show.
Some practical information to finish:
- Historium is on the corner of Market square and Philipstockstraat, with the entrance being on the Market square. It’s instantly recognizable by the Historium logo above the gate. There is also a green i on the façade to announce the presence of a tourist office.
- Opening hours for the attraction are daily from 10h00 – 18h00 (last entrance for the show at around 17h00) and on Thursday till 21h00 (last entrance for the show at around 20h00).
The tourist office inside Historium is open daily from 10h00 – 17h00.
Everything will be closed on 1 January and 25 December
- Adult entrance price is 11 euro, for children younger than 14 it’s 5,50 euro. Disabled people pay the full entrance price, but the accompanying person can enter for free. Family tickets are also available, it’s 30 euro for maximum 2 adults and 3 children younger than 14 euro.
The official website is www.historium.be
You can prepare your visit by reading among other about the 7 themed rooms.
Historium is already on Tripadvisor: tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g188671-d3… so visitors can already review Bruges’ newest attraction.
Please review the attraction ONLY. I’ve had Tripadvisor remove numerous reviews in the past about Bruges HISTORIC city center…………..although Bruges as a whole is lovely as well of course ;)
Anyway, that’s it for now. Should you have any questions about Historium, feel free to contact me at any time.