Views on Europe
As part of the permanent 6th floor exhibition Europe Now, which reflects recent history - at the House of European History - the interactive part “Views on Europe” visually exhibits images and works of art, which allow us to think about Europe´s core values. Visitors can explore European cities’ past and present through webcams and works of art. They can create their own immersive virtual tour and have it projected onto the walls using one of the three tablets placed in the space. The House of European History is a ground-breaking museum because it offers a completely new and different perspective on the history of the continent. It takes a transnational approach to the origins and evolution of Europe and the diverse legacies, traditions and interpretations of its history. It is a museum that is suited for everyone, for visitors of all ages and all backgrounds. Its state-of-the-art multi-media tablet allows each visitor to go through the exhibition at their own pace and in their own language. The museum opened its new exhibition space, Europe Now, on the 9th of May 2021. A significant date, as it took place on Europe Day. Located on the 6th floor of the historical building in Brussel’s Park Leopold, it offers a light, tranquil space to reflect on Europe’s most recent history and what it means to be a European today. The new, thought-provoking space is complimentary to the rest of the museum’s permanent exhibition. It allows visitors to place themselves at the centre of the story of Europe. Head Curator, Andrea Mork explains, “Here, visitors are invited to interact, participate and reflect. What binds us together as Europeans? What does Europe represent today? What are the challenges we face and are we rising to them? It’s a space where we can look at communalities, interrelations and interesting parallels, but also at existing differences.” From considering the many challenges facing Europe today – climate change, its colonial heritage, Brexit and the Covid pandemic, to name but a few – to images of Europe as seen from above, the exhibition includes a dynamic blend of film, photos, objects and artwork, all accompanied by audiovisual commentary in 24 languages. ‘Headlines of our time’, ‘Vortex of history’, ‘Tracking my Europe’, ‘Europe from the skies’, ‘Views on Europe’ and ‘Reaching out to Europe’: the exhibition offers an intelligent mix of interactive installations and contemplative spaces. Particularly, the section “Views on Europe” is designed as a space for multiple uses, such as collaborative and participatory projects, or multimedia events that take place across different locations throughout Europe. In the normal mode of operation, projections on three walls focus on city life in Europe - in both the past and the present. This digital art gallery shows more than 500 images and photographs from more than 50 European cities, creating a kaleidoscope of visual art, which reflects city life throughout history. City life, a key element of the European lifestyle, is represented through an innovative blend of photography, artwork and webcam images. Offering a playful way to reflect on parallels and differences, visitors get to create their own galleries, combining historical and present day images from over 50 cities in Europe. In the middle, a relaxed sofa area allows visitors to, literally and figuratively, recharge their batteries, surrounded by the multiplicity of European cities across time and space. It can function as a community space allowing for programming activities in collaboration with various community groups. Views on Europe interactive station was curated around the following themes and narrative lines: Views on European Cities: "The city is a key element of Europe’s culture and history. Artists through time have represented its many faces by creating a kaleidoscope of different impressions. Looking across Europe from North to South and from East to West, we find that similarities and parallels are just as visible as differences. The city functions as a point of communication and sets the pace for politics and trade. It is a repository of knowledge, site of remembrance, and melting pot of peoples and cultures. With this interactive projection you can switch between topics and spaces, from the past and the present, and see the changes and transformations in city views taking place over time in Europe. Maps and Views: Cartography helps us understand urban development. In the Renaissance, the increasing number of maps paid testament to the growing importance of cities in setting the pace for political, economic and cultural development. Maps provide a clear view of the urban fabric. The compendium ‘Civitates Orbis Terrarum’ published between 1572 and 1618 by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg, contains more than 500 views and maps of cities. Square Life: The square as the central meeting point for citizens is present in almost all cities. It dates back to the agoras of antiquity, the marketplaces of the middle ages, and the centres of public life in modern times. City squares are both centres of urban power and architectural beauty, the places where European history is written again and again. Presence and memory part: Nothing is as ‘invisible’ as a monument, according to Austrian writer Robert Musil. Are memorials really as ignored and forgotten by the public as he suggests? In many places, monuments have even become city landmarks. They are part of the cultural memory, marking shared or divided experiences. Monuments show how Europeans think about history and engage with the past. Time and time again, memorials have become a matter of public debate. Many have been torn down and new ones have risen in their place. Dynamism and silence: The speed and the dynamism of urban living overload the senses. Art movements such as Expressionism, Futurism, and Cubism express the restlessness associated with city living. Yet, in the centre of the rush and noise, other artists discover a sudden quietness. City Dwellers: Cities are places of interaction between diverse peoples and cultures. Picturesque street scenes of the 19th century depict the city as a flourishing place of wealth and harmony. Its many temptations, rhythms, and energies shape not only the positive fascination of the city in 20th century art but also its negative perception as a place of anonymity, harsh social inequality, and crime. Painting and street photography introduced new ways of presenting the fragmented reality of the city. Sanctuaries: The sky over European cities offers a view on spires and towers of numerous spiritual centres. These powerful silhouettes and architectural marvels are not only places of worship and landmarks; their construction, modifications or destruction mirror rich national and local religious histories. The peaceful coexistence of churches, synagogues, and mosques was often challenged by intolerance that triggered division, conflict and expulsion. Melting Pots Cities are melting pots of different peoples and cultures incorporating influences from Europe and the world. Parks, cafés, markets and shops are the vivid public spaces where inhabitants and visitors interact on a daily basis. Numerous European artists capture the density and variety of city life. They evoke harsh realities of social inequality and contrast while at the same time reveal the potential for integration that the city holds. City Utopia Thomas More coined the word ‘Utopia’ in the 16th century to describe an island where ideal social conditions prevail. Many artists, architects, philosophers, and politicians have dreamed about an ideal society in an ideal place. The chosen images for ‘City Utopia’ represent not only aesthetic ideals but also concepts of political order of their respective time. Utopian thinking is not limited by definition. The examples shown here come from all over the world. The images are sorted by topics in order to describe common characteristics of European cities. Visitors are encouraged to create their own galleries - they can choose either a topic or one of the cities and combine historical images with webcam projections, thus bringing past and present into a visual dialog.

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