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Decadence and Digital Dreams: Virtual Exhibition on Belgian Symbolism Now Online

Alte Nationalgalerie

The major exhibition Decadence and Dark Dreams: Belgian Symbolism, which was only able to be shown at the Alte Nationalgalerie for a brief time due to the pandemic-related closures, can now be visited virtually in a high-resolution 360-degree tour.

The seductive glimpse into the abyss of a society defined by overabundance, the morbid attraction between Thanatos and Eros – these are some of the themes that found expression in the art of the 19th century, especially in Belgian Symbolism. This exhibition, which due to the pandemic was only able to be shown at the Alte Nationalgalerie from 18 September to 2 November 2020, explores this fin-de-siècle tendency, featuring some 200 works by more than 30 artists, including masterpieces by Fernand Khnopff, Leon Spilliaert and James Ensor.

Ralph Gleis, Director of the Nationalgalerie, on the new virtual exhibition:

It is such a shame that this unique show featuring high-calibre international loans could only be seen by a small number of visitors, for reasons that have become all too familiar. Because of this, we are even happier to be able to now make this exhibition accessible to an international audience online. We would like to thank the Belgian Embassy in Berlin and the Hearn Family Trust, who made this virtual tour possible.

Interactive Tour Shows 200 Works in 13 Sections

The virtual exhibition allows visitors to embark on an interactive tour divided up into 13 sections, each featuring introductory texts and all of the roughly 200 works in high-res reproductions, along with additional information on the artists and owners of the works. There are also brief, explanatory texts and audio features on selected works. All information is available in both German and English.


This exhibition was supported by the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, and made possible by the Freunde der Nationalgalerie.

The virtual tour was made possible by the Delegation of Eupen-Malmedy, the French Community of Belgium, the Belgium Embassy in Berlin and the Flemish Regional Government, and by the Hearn Family Trust.

Exhibition Catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by a 336-page catalogue, featuring 265 colour reproductions and released by Hirmer Verlag, edited by Ralph Gleis and with texts by Jane Block, Maja Brodrecht, Yvette Deseyve, Johan DeSmet, Michel Draguet, Ralph Gleis, Arnika Groenewald-Schmidt, Hans Körner and Inga Rossi-Schrimpf. The catalogue is available from the online shop of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin for €45.

Online Offers from the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

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