Red Star Line Museum set to open

As of September 28th, 2013 the public can explore the new Red Star Line Museum in the historic warehouses of the Red Star Line shipping company in Antwerp.

This experiential museum tells the story of the millions of people who travelled to America and Canada on board of the Red Star Line’s ocean liners in search of a new and better life.

From 1800 onwards millions of people packed all their worldly possessions
into a few suitcases to travel from Europe to the United States and Canada, in search of happiness and a better life in this new world. For many of these people the journey actually started in a port warehouse in Antwerp.

From 1873 until 1934 the Red Star Line’s ocean liners ferried more than two million passengers and adventurers to the Promised Land and back.

The Red Star Line Museum tells the tale of the millions of people who dared to leave everything behind in their quest for happiness and a better life. It is a tale of high expectations and deep disappointments, of hope and of many sleepless nights.

The shipping company’s old buildings help visualise these emotions and stories, making them more tangible and palpable.

Following in the migrant’s footsteps

The museum visit follows the various stages of the journey that these migrants undertook in eight thematic spaces on two floors: a travel agency in Warsaw, a train carriage, the city of Antwerp, the Red Star Line building, the deck of an ocean liner, life on board, the arrival at Ellis Island and the new future in the United States.

The personal testimonials of Red Star Line passengers constitute the common thread. Authentic oral and written histories, photos which evoke the atmosphere, a striking scenography and selections of various original and personal objects conjure the atmosphere of the voyage, reflecting the experience of the average European migrant in the early twentieth century.

The museum zooms in on their expectations, hopes, disappointments and successes, allowing visitors to empathise with the passengers thanks to a series of interactive multimedia applications.

A timeless story

The Red Star Line Museum uses the shipping company’s history as a starting point to examine the universal and timeless phenomenon of migration. In a port city migration is especially an everyday occurrence.

In the museum the visitors will follow in the footsteps of people who might have been their ancestors – and in some cases actually were, seeing the city from a new perspective.
Antwerp and by extension any city in the world is what it is today because of the people who lived here in the past; likewise tomorrow’s Antwerp is shaped by the people living here today, a reflection which the museum’s scenography emphasises.

In the first museum room the Red Star Line’s history is situated in the framework of the history of migration, illustrated with a timeline which narrates the history of mankind along with twenty personal stories of people on the move.

At the end of the richly documented museum trail the visitors are again invited to think about the new transit places in the city in a room dedicated to present-day migration stories.

Hans Op de Beeck’s art film, ‘Dance’ marks the end of the museum visit. In the knowledge corner visitors can search for information about their own family’s migration history while personal migration stories contribute to further developing the continuously growing collection.

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