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The construction of the Passage du Nord was begun in 1881 by the Société Anonyme du Musée et Passage du Nord (Museum & Passage du Nord Ltd) to the designs of the architect Henri Rieck. It opened to the public in February 1882.
In 1892, the Passage du Nord was purchased by Léon Fontaine van der Straeten, who dissolved the limited company and set up a property management company with shares owned by many of his relatives, whose descendants still own them today.
The Brussels newspaper “La Gazette” announced on 26 May 1881 the construction of a shopping arcade with 32 shops and a museum between the Boulevard du Nord (today the Boulevard Adolphe Max) and the Rue Neuve.
The museum had several galleries for exhibitions of industrial products, modern inventions, works of art, curiosities and antiques, a concert hall, a laboratory for performing chemistry and physics experiments, a meeting room, a gaming room, a “baby’s theatre” and a restaurant.
Today, the ground floor contains only 20 shops, as several of the old shops were knocked together to form larger premises. The space occupied by the museum is now part of the Hotel Metropole and has been converted into meeting rooms and guest bedrooms. The only remaining traces of the museum are the two signs advertising the “Musée du Nord” on the Boulevard Adolphe Max facade of the building. Admission to the museum used to cost 1 Belgian franc.
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