Kunstmuseum aan zee Collecties van
de Vlaamse Gemeenschap
Stad Oostende


James Ensor and Léon Spilliaert. Two Masters of Ostend

Mu.ZEE, the Art Museum by the Sea, introduces a superb new collection featuring works by James Ensor and Léon Spilliaert in its brand-new wing.

Ostend and James Ensor are inextricably linked. Ensor loved Ostend: the city served as his muse and inexhaustible source of inspiration. He loved it for its crowds, the tempestuous North Sea, the carnival that painted the streets in festive colours each year. The name of the painter Léon Spillaert, twenty years his junior, is also connected with this Queen of Seaside Resorts. His nocturnal rambles through the city and long walks along the beach spurred him to create his best works, dark and suffused with mystery. Although Ensor and Spilliaert were very different as artists, their names are often mentioned in the same breath.

In Two Masters of Ostend, the museum aims, above all, to allow the masterworks that are the highlights of its collection to speak for themselves. Behind every work of art or document in our archives you will find a myriad of anecdotes and tales featuring and recounting the lives of people such as the judge Eugène Demolder, writer Edgar Allan Poe, scientist Ernest Rousseau, bacteriologist Mariette Hannon-Rousseau, artist Willy Finch, writer and art critic Emile Verhaeren, poet and director of the ‘Kursaal’ (casino) Henri Vandeputte, the patron and music lover Emma Lambotte, Brussels publisher Edmond Deman, art promoter and gallery owner Paul-Gustave Van Hecke, art critic and artist  Théodore Hannon, philosopher  Walter Benjamin, author Stefan Zweig,  composer Richard Wagner, the French writers Honoré de Balzac and Alfred Jarry  and the film-maker  Henri Storck, to name but a few. They take us back to the Ostend of a bygone era, reflected in the city as it is today.


Ensor and Spilliaert Museum Wing temporarily closed for the preparation of Dreams of mother-of-pearl. The Ensor collection of KMSKA in Ostend

On 12 May, the exhibition Dreams of mother-of-pearl. The Ensor collection of KMSKA in Ostend opens in the Ensor and Spilliaert Museum Wing. 

For this reason, the Ensor and Spilliaert Museum Wing will close from 2nd May to re-open on 12 May with the new exhibition.

After 10 years this collection will be on view again, not in Antwerp, but in James Ensor’s hometown of Ostend. In recent years, the Antwerp Ensor collection has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Basel, Copenhagen and Utrecht, and now in Ostend.

Tickets are available at www.muzee.be/en/muzee/publications. If you would like to visit the exhibition with a guide, please book via info@muzee.be

For more information: info@muzee.be – 059 24 21 91 

Overview past exhibitions »

30/04/2016 - 01/05/2018
€ 9 individual visitor
€ 7.50 groups from 15 pp, 65+
€ 1 youth from 13 to 26 years
Free children up to 12 years