The Red Star Line Museum is celebrating

The Red Star Line Museum is celebrating its fifth anniversary and has multiple reasons to celebrate. At the end of September, it will reopen to the public after a closing period required for the renovations carried out on the hall and the last portion of the permanent exhibition.  Everyone is welcome to join a free-of-charge party weekend with a Jef Neve concert on the programme. Additionally, the new ‘Thuishaven’ (Safe Haven) exhibition opens with fascinating contemporary Antwerp migration stories.

After the summer closing period, the Red Star Line Museum will open its doors again on the weekend of 22 and 23 September. Everyone is welcome to join a party weekend full of free-of-charge activities for young and old. The ‘Thuishaven’ exhibition will also officially open in the renovated hall that weekend. Several descendants of Red Star Line passengers, such as the musician Irving Berlin, will travel to Antwerp specifically for that weekend and are available for interviews.

Picture: Victoriano Moreno

Party weekend

The piano belonging to the famed songwriter Irving Berlin is one of the museum's prized pieces and is also the thread throughout the festival weekend programme. Irving Berlin left Europe for America with the Red Star Line 125 years ago as a 5-year-old boy and became world famous with songs like ‘White Christmas’ and ‘God Bless America’.  Once the descendants, including Berlin's granddaughter, have opened the freshly renovated hall of the museum on Friday, a pianist will revive the authentic instrument with a mini-concert.

Beginning Saturday, the museum has free-of-charge access for the public featuring, amongst others, a concert by Jef Neve, a performance by The Cream Colored Ponyies, a DJ-set by Tom Barman, a 'grand piano' for kids, a piano marathon, family tours and, of course, plenty of snacks, drinks and cake.

A refreshed museum
Apart from it being a five-year anniversary party, that weekend also marks the reopening of the museum after the summer refurbishments.

Caroline Bastiaens, Antwerp's alderwoman for culture, explains the museum's refurbishments : "The final portion of the permanent exhibition, on the theme of arrival at Ellis Island, has been supplemented with new compelling stories and memories that have been collected from families and descendants in America. This way, visitors can feel how the stories of the Red Star Line passengers have yet to be fully told. In addition, we have also completed some architectural interventions in the historical hall of the museum intended to create more space and focus and to ensure it is better suited for temporary exhibitions and other activities.  And, finally, the museum café also has been given a new home.” 

In concrete terms, the museum café has been moved to the newly built mezzanine and the reception desk  has been moved to the side wall in order to optimally utilise the hall's spaciousness. Because, in addition to telling the history of the shipping company, the museum also wants to be an open and hospitable home, by entering into dialogue with society through the collection and by offering a space for participatory projects.

The café is no longer tucked away behind the large hangar, in the middle of the temporary exhibition, but has its own place and is thus the ideal place to round off the (sometimes emotional) museum visit. In the museum café, you also have the possibility to continue browsing the passenger manifests of the Red Star Line shipping company.

New exhibition ‘Thuishaven’ (Safe Haven)
The festive weekend also marks the start of the temporary exhibition ‘Thuishaven’ (Safe  Haven).  This exhibition tells the stories of immigrants to Antwerp and their lives in their first five years in the city. Whether it concerns refugees, students who have stayed here or immigrants from other Belgian cities: everyone who ever arrived in Antwerp has a story. The museum toured about the city with a story bus in order to highlight these Antwerp stories and to gather testimonies. Ambassadors such as cabaret actor and theatre maker Geert Hoste and illustrator Fatinha Ramos are fully behind this project.

Practical information

Closed from 18 June until 21 September 2018 - Public reopening on 22 September

  • Festival weekend in the Red Star Line Museum
    22 and 23 September
    Free-of-charge access to the museum and the activities. Tours and refreshments are for a fee.
    The complete programme at:
  • Exhibition ‘Thuishaven’ (Safe Haven)
    From 22 September up until and including 21 October in the hangar.
    Free of charge
  • haven


  • Attachment 1: The renovations in the museum
  • Attachment 2: Festival Weekend Programme
  • Attachment 3: Thuishaven (Safe Haven)
  • Attachment 4: The Descendants
  • Attachment 5: 5 years of Red Star Line Museum: looking back
  • Attachment 6: A glimpse into the future


Attachment 1_The renovations in the museum.docx

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Attachment 2_ Festival Weekend Programme.docx

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Attachment 3_ Exhibition Thuishaven (Safe Haven).docx

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Attachment 4_The Descendants.docx

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Attachment 5_5 years of Red Star Line Museum looking back.docx

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Attachment 6_A glimpse into the future.docx

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Nadia De Vree

Perscoördinator Musea en Erfgoed Antwerpen, Stad Antwerpen

Karen Moeskops

Directeur RSL, Stad Antwerpen

About Red Star Line Museum

The Red Star Line Museum invites you on an eventful journey in the footsteps of the emigrants. Become acquainted with the passengers and accompany them on their trip from their native village to Antwerp. The ocean steamers of the Red Star Line are docked on the quay ready to depart for the New World. Exciting and personal stories accompany you across the ocean. On the other side of the ocean you say goodbye to your fellow passengers.


Montevideostraat 3 2000 Antwerpen Belgium

+ 32 3 298 27 70

[email protected]