The House of European History

Brussels, planned opening 2016

Photo credits:  Atelier d'architecture Chaix & Morel et associés © Eddie Young / AACMA-JSWD 
Photo credits: Atelier d'architecture Chaix & Morel et associés © Eddie Young / AACMA-JSWD

Building a cultural institution for debate on European history

The European Parliament is establishing a House of European History in Brussels which will give visitors the opportunity to learn about European history and to engage in critical reflection about its meaning for the present day.
The main focus of the permanent exhibition will be on European history of the 20th century and the history of European integration, viewed from a broad historical perspective and bringing together contrasting experiences of Europeans in history.
The House of European History aims to convey a trans-national overview of European history, taking into account its diverse nature and its many interpretations and perceptions.
The House seeks to contribute to the understanding of European history, including the wider global context, and to facilitate debate about Europe and the European integration process.

Exhibitions, objects & collections

At the heart of the House, there will be a permanent exhibition focusing mainly on the 20th century, with retrospective insights into processes and events from earlier centuries. The narrative of the exhibition will be accompanied by a newly-assembled collection of objects and equipped with multimedia and interactive technology.    

Photo credits: ACCIONA Producciones y Diseño S.A. ©European Union 
Photo credits: ACCIONA Producciones y Diseño S.A. ©European Union

Values & principles

Multiple perspectives on history

While focusing on significant phenomena in the history of Europe, the permanent exhibition will present different viewpoints and diverse interpretations of history. In this way, the House of European History aims to become a forum for reflection and debate.

The visitor - at the centre

The exhibition will be devised so as to meet the expectations of each and every visitor, with or without extensive prior historical knowledge. All will be able to engage and participate in the exhibition at their own pace. Wide-ranging educational and cultural programmes are also planned.

Multilingualism

As of its opening, the House of European History aims to provide its main content in the then 24 official languages of the European Union. Multilingualism is seen as an expression of the cultural diversity of Europe, and the House wishes its visitors to experience its multilingual specificity as one of its main assets.

Cooperation

Cooperation with networks and institutions within Europe and beyond will play a crucial role in linking the House to different cultural bodies at the international, national or local level. The House of European History will endeavour to become an integral part of the Brussels' cultural landscape and to develop creative professional alliances with partner institutions.

Location - in the Eastman building in the Parc Léopold

The House of European History will be located in the Parc Léopold, in the heart of the European quarter in Brussels. The Eastman building was built in 1935 to house a dental clinic for disadvantaged children, financed by a donation from the inventor of the Kodak camera. The plans include the renovation of the façades - maintaining the historic aesthetic of the building - as well as a modern extension in the courtyard and on the roof.

Photo credits:  Atelier d'architecture Chaix & Morel et associés / AACMA-JSWD 
Photo credits: Atelier d'architecture Chaix & Morel et associés / AACMA-JSWD

Implementation and management of the project

Created on the initiative of the European Parliament, the House of European History relies on several institutional structures for its implementation.

The Board of Trustees, chaired by the former President of the European Parliament, Mr Hans-Gert Pöttering, is a body made up of high-level politicians and personalities, bringing together the European institutions and the Brussels authorities. The competent bodies of the Parliament are represented on it. It supervises the general management of the project.

The Academic Committee, chaired by the historian Włodzimierz Borodziej and comprising a number of historians and professionals from internationally renowned museums, plays a follow-up and advisory role on historical and museological transcription issues.
The Academic Project Team, led by historian and curator Taja Vovk van Gaal, is responsible for preparing the exhibitions and for structuring the future museum.

The Building Team organised the architectural competition for the building and is responsible for overseeing the works including the renovation and extension of the Eastman Building.

FAQ
 
Why have a House of European History?

The decades-long process that has created the European Union has had a profound impact on the way European countries organise and govern themselves, but until now there has been no public space which places both the process and events within a wider historical context, bringing together and juxtaposing the contrasting experiences of different European countries.

The generation of people who experienced the tragedies of the 20th century and went on to build the European Communities is disappearing. Now is the time, therefore, to record their stories and memories to allow future generations to understand how and why today's Union developed as and when it did. In times of crisis, it is particularly important to articulate the crucial role of culture and heritage and to remember that peaceful cooperation is not to be taken for granted.

The European Parliament therefore plans to set up the House of European History, which will give citizens an opportunity to learn about this historical process and reflect on what it means for the present.

 
What are the principles governing the project?

From the outset, the project has been driven by a desire to promote knowledge of Europe's history and awareness of diverse memories in an open and non-dogmatic fashion. Academic independence and the accurate portrayal of history have top priority. To this end, a European team of historians and museum professionals from all over Europe has been recruited specifically for the project and is working on the development of the exhibitions, ensuring that the diversity of European history - and of its interpretations - is fairly represented.

A high-level advisory board (Academic Committee) composed of internationally renowned historians and museologists will guarantee the academic accuracy and relevance of the content and the story.

 
What are the main objectives?

In short, the House of European History aims to:

  • increase knowledge,
  • arouse curiosity,
  • become an open platform for reflection and debate about Europe and its history,
  • gradually become a thesaurus of European history, and
  • link institutions and networks dealing with European history.

 
Where will it be located?

The House of European History will be a new asset in Brussels, especially for those visitors who want to learn more about European history while visiting the city which hosts most of the EU institutions. The House of European History will be complementary to a visit to the European institutions and to the European Parliament's Visitors' Centre (Parlamentarium). While the Parlamentarium deals with the role and activities of the Parliament, the aim of the House of European History is to reflect the complexity of Europe's political, economic, social and cultural history.

The House of European History will be located in the Eastman Building in the Parc Léopold, close to the European institutions. With a view to transforming this building into a building for exhibition purposes, an architectural competition was published in 2009 and completed in early 2011. It was won by a group composed of the architects Chaix & Morel et associés from France, JSWD Architekten from Germany, and TPF from Belgium. The works started in November 2012.

 
When was the project initiated?

The project to create a House of European History was initiated by the then European Parliament President, Hans-Gert Pöttering, in his inaugural speech of 2007, with the following words: ''I should like to create a locus for history and for the future where the concept of the European idea can continue to grow. I would like to suggest the founding of a "House of European History". The project was supported and approved by Parliament's Bureau.

A first concept, called the "Conceptual Basis for a House of European History", was drawn up by a committee of renowned historians and experts from various European countries in 2008. The experts conceived of the House of European History as a modern exhibition, documentation and information centre reflecting the latest in museological thinking.

 
What are the costs of the project?

Estimated costs: development phase 2011-2015: €31 million for the renovation and extension of the building, €21.4 million for the permanent and the first temporary exhibitions (€15.4 million for fitting-out exhibition and other spaces, €6 million for multilingualism) and €3.75 million to build up the collection.

 
 
Tools

Key documents

At a glance

  • a permanent exhibition
  • temporary and travelling exhibitions
  • cultural and educational programmes
  • a lecture and conference room
  • an extensive online offer
  • a cafeteria and a shop

A place for debate on European history

  • The history of Europe in all its complexity and breadth
  • A trans-national perspective on Europe's history - political, social, economic and cultural
  • An exhibition in all the languages of the Union
  • A unique experience: informative, educational and participatory
  • A free-entry cultural institution, accessible to all
  • A place for reflection and debate about European history
  • An engaged and creative actor - rooted in the cultural life of Brussels

Timeline

February 2007
Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament proposed the House of European history as 'a locus for history and for the future where the concept of the European idea can continue to grow.'

October 2008     
The Conceptual Basis,
elaborated by an international Committee of Experts led by Prof. Hans-Walter Hütter, lays down the principles of the House of European History.

February 2009
Appointment of a Board of Trustees chaired by former EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering and of an a high-level Academic Committee chaired by the historian Prof. Włodzimierz Borodziej.

June 2009           
The Parliament's Bureau takes the decision to allocate the former Eastman dental clinic building to the future insttution.

January 2011     
A multidisciplinary team of professionals is brought together under the direction of the historian and curator Taja Vovk Van Gaal.

March 2011        
The winner of the architectural competition to extend and renovate the Eastman building is designated: Ateliers Chaix & Morel (FR), JSWD Architekten (DE) and TPF (BE).

2012     
Beginning of the renovation works at the Eastman Building

Contact us

House of European History
European Parliament
Rue Wiertz 60/ Wiertzstraat 60
B-1047 Brussels
Belgium
heh-info@ep.europa.eu