Spearheading the rejuvenation of the once derelict Willemdok harbor area, MAS (which translates as ‘Museum on the River’) opened in 2011 to great acclaim – as much for its stellar architecture as its thoughtful, well-curated exhibitions paying homage to the city of Antwerp, its history and culture. Sitting just north of the city center on a dock commissioned by Napoleon in 1811, the museum was designed by Dutch architects Neutelings Riedijk and towers 60 m (197 ft) above the harbor. It is comprised of layers of bright-red sandstone bricks held together with glass and steel; the five themed floors of interactive and entertaining displays make use of nearly half a million artifacts – including anything from Old Master paintings to model boats, newsreel, penny farthings, model ships and personal accounts on video – to showcase Antwerp’s development into one of Europe’s largest ports, a diamond capital and a multiracial center of learning and culture. On the ninth and top floor an outdoor terrace gives views stretching over the city to the River Scheldt, where the Antwerp story began. Unusually for a museum, MAS also has the double-Michelin-starred restaurant ‘t Zilte, presided over by chef Viki Geunes. Outside is the MAS Boulevard, with a couple of small temporary exhibition galleries and pretty views over the bobbing boats in the harbor.
Hanzestedenplaats 1. Admission €5 adults; €3 seniors and ages 12–25; free for children 11 and under (free last Wednesday of every month). Temporary exhibitions prices vary; combination tickets are available with the Red Line Museum (€13, concessions €9). Opening hours are Tue–Fri 10am–5pm, Sat–Sun 10am–6pm; the museum stays open until 9pm on the last Thursday of every month. Walk from the city center.