M - Museum Leuven is the successor to the Vander Kelen-Mertens Municipal Museum. The new museum building was designed by the famed Belgian architect Stephane Beel. Beel has integrated two old and two new buildings into his design, creating a balanced and efficient complex. He strives to achieve complementarity between existing and new architecture in which classical and contemporary art can enter into a dialogue with each other.
The museum complex includes various new spaces: the M cafe, the M shop, the multifunctional auditorium, the children's studio, the workshop spaces, the pleasant courtyard, the roof terrace and the splendid exhibition spaces.
The antechamber is the heart of M: an impressive reception space, an inviting and freely accessible area where you can get a taste of the exhibits or experience some of the activities. It is Leuven's new market square, where you can meet up with friends or family.
Old and New
M is a composition of existing, historical elements and contemporary adaptations. The result is a new complex composed of four parts: the former Vander Kelen-Mertens residence, the former university college of Saint Ivo (the old Academy) and two new structures of which the pediment at the main entrance features the remains of the former faculty of science.
Leuven's motto - Legendary, living, Leuven - also lies at the core of the architecture: the new is grafted onto the old, creating new life. The result is a new and exciting entity. Every part of M can be used for both classical and contemporary art: contemporary art in old spaces, classical art in new rooms.The Vander Kelen residence has been actively integrated into the new complex with great respect for its historic value. For example, in the house, which was the heart of the old museum, thenineteenth century colours have been reused, leaf-gold hasbeen reapplied and replicas of the original parquet havebeen laid. A number of later additions have been removedand the period rooms have been restored to their former grandeur.