The Museum of letters and manuscripts is a place where visitors can sympathise with the everyday life of Charles V; investigate the brainteasers of Albert Einstein; learn from the work of René Magritte; discover the friendships of Hergé or the passion of Jacques Brel. Exceptional in sheer size and quality, the collection uncovers the testimonies of the men and women who influenced the arts, history, music, literature and sciences.
The exhibitions of the Museums of Paris and Brussels unveil some of the 140 000 letters, manuscripts, autographs and drawings of the shared collection. For conservationist reasons and to provide visitors the opportunity to discover new letters, the permanent collection gets a makeover regularly, where both the individual pieces as well as the arrangement of the collection are renewed. Thus, the quality and versatility of the documents is emphasised again.
The space for permanent collection is divided into five themes: art, music, literature, history, and science.
You can explore:
- A decorated card Pablo Picasso sent from Amsterdam, a storyboard for the surrealist film Destino by Salvador Dalí and the correspondence of among others Monet, Rops, Chagall, Toulouse-Lautrec, Mondrian, Ensor, Alechinsky and Magritte.
- Letters and sheet music by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, Rossini, Verdi but also Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky. Furthermore, the chansons of Belgian singer Jacques Brel also belong to our written heritage.
- The MLMB owns the script Hugo Claus wrote for a sequel to the film Emmanuelle, letters in English by Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway as well as letters written by Voltaire, the Marquis de Sade, Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, Emile Verhaeren and Maurice Maeterlinck.
- The history is brought to life with the help of a papal bull dating from 1179, the oldest manuscript of our collection, which was written with a quill pen and Indian ink on parchment. Moreover, unique handwritten letters of Charlemagne, Napoleon III and Winston Churchill offer an insight into what was going on behind the scenes of the political stage and letters from the concentration camps bear witness of the censorship during World War II.
- Little known is the close friendship between Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, which is revealed in the Museum thanks to their correspondence. The section of science is completed by first editions of the anatomical studies of Andreas Vesalius, testimonies of the experiments with the first hot air balloons as well as the writings on the scientific progress of Charles Darwin, Louis Pasteur and Pierre and Marie Curie.