After 200 years, the collection of M now comprises more than 52,500 works. Having developed from an 18th-century cabinet of curiosities in Leuven town hall, the collection has a special focus on artworks from Leuven and Brabant. We also have a selection of contemporary art, representing a cross-section of post-1945 Belgian art. In other words, the collection is exceptionally rich.
To walk around M is to walk around Leuven’s architectural history, from 16th-century university colleges to the 19th-century town house of Mayor Leopold Vander Kelen. Built on the remains of the Savoy College, the neoclassical home became a municipal museum in 1917. Architect Stéphane Beel integrated the old buildings in their entirety, with great respect for their historical value. This shows off the 19th-century sitting rooms to their best advantage, with new gold-leaf and replicas of the original parquet floors.
M’s early years can be traced back to Leuven’s town hall. Starting in 1823, the 18th-century cabinet of curiosities developed into a municipal museum. In 1917, the museum moved to the former private residence of Mayor Leopold Vander Kelen on Savoyestraat. The successive curators each added their own accents, from the historical to the religious and later to the civil. The collection thus evolved, in part thanks to a number of important bequests. The historical collection developed into a comprehensive selection and overview of artistic production in Leuven and Brabant since the Middle Ages. Afterwards the collection was further expanded with Belgian art thanks to a long-term and close collaboration with Cera. In 2009, architect Stéphane Beel expressed this idea of art as part of life and society in a new museum complex.