House of European History

The House of European History takes visitors on a journey along the path of Europe’s history and challenges them to contemplate its future, and all of this in the 24 official European Union languages.

To give visitors a better understanding of the tumultuous events of the 20th century, the permanent exhibition focuses firstly on the convictions and beliefs that defined the 19th century – Europe’s ‘entry into modernity’ – before moving on to consider Europe’s descent into war and destruction.
This is followed by the search for a better life in an increasingly united Europe.
Visitors are encouraged to think about the Europe of today, the status and position of the European Union, and the part that everyone plays in shaping Europe's future.

Visitors can also visit the temporary exhibition "Fake for Real: A history of forgery and falsification , open until 30th January 2022.
  • The House of European History is easily accessible by train (Bruxelles-Luxembourg station), bus or metro.
    The nearest metro stops are Maelbeek and Schuman on lines 1 and 5, and Trone on lines 2 and 6.
  • 1,5 Schuman - 2,6 Trône / Troon
  • Opening times

    24/10/2020 - 28/10/2021: * monday: from 13:00 to 18:00 * tuesday, wednesday, thursday and friday: from 09:00 to 18:00 * saturday and sunday: from 10:00 to 18:00

  • Price

    Normal: 0,00 €

Discover fakes and falsifications throughout history, from the time of antiquity, through medieval and modern history until the present era. Fakes have a long tradition in history, but each era has seen particular types of fakes flourish. Significantly, the human tendency to believe in certain fakes appears to be universal. The exhibition begins with the ancient practice of removing people from official accounts ("Damnatio memoriae"), moving to forgeries in science, history and art, and culminating with “deep fakes” of the contemporary period and false information about the Covid pandemic. Case studies are grouped in six themes around a dramatic, labyrinthine space. A rich selection of objects from prominent museums across 20 European countries awaits you. Join a nuanced discussion on the understanding of truths and fakes and sharpen your awareness about the need for critical thinking. Uncover the historical circumstances that explain the appearance of fakes, the motives behind them, their impact and ultimate exposure.

Why are the most memorable stories about the past so often untrue? Fact and fiction are not easily told apart, and when we imagine history our best guides are often novelists like Tolstoy or Jane Austen. But some things we are told about the past are deliberate forgeries, planted misinformation. Ancient epics sensationally “discovered” after centuries of oblivion often turn out to be modern-day fakes. Literary forgeries have a long history with many startling cases – almost like detective movies. There is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game between historians – the investigators carefully tracking down the evidence – and the forgers, whose attempts at tricking the public are creative, clever and often plain silly. Joep Leerssen will take us into the murky underworld of counterfeit history, fake epics, and forged manuscripts. A series of startling escapades in the dusty back rooms of deserted libraries, which in the end make us wonder... why we are so very eager to re-make the past? And what, finally, is the relationship between the past as it was and the past as we imagine it? Joep Leerssen (Leiden, 1955) studied Comparative Literature in Germany, Ireland and Canada and has been professor of European Studies at the University of Amsterdam since 1991. He also holds a part-time research professorship at Maastricht University, and in the past has held visiting appointments at Harvard, Cambridge (Magdalene College), Göttingen, and the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris. His work concerns the interaction between nationalist ideologies and the literary and historical imagination. He has published on Irish (self-)stereotyping and identity history (Mere Irish & Fíor-Ghael, 2nd ed. 1996; Remembrance and Imagination, 1996; Parnell and his Times (ed.), 2020); on the comparative cultural history of national movements in Europe (National Thought in Europe, 3rd ed. 2018; Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe (ed.), 2018); and on the history of the philologies and human sciences (De bronnen van het vaderland, 3rd ed. 2015; Comparative Literature in Britain, 2019). Leerssen, whose work has been honoured with the Spinoza Prize and the Madame de Staël Award for European values, is a leading authority in historical nationalism studies and in imagology, the theory and critical analysis of cultural and national stereotyping. He is married to the Irish literary scholar Ann Rigney, with whom he co-edited the collection Commemorating Writers in Nineteenth-Century Europe: Nation-Building and Centenary Fever (2014).