Located on an avenue of embassies near the forest that surrounds Brussels, the Villa Empain offers a unique experience. When you first walk in, you are blown away by the sheer opulence of the whole thing, standing in a house straight out of the Great Gatsby and the gilded jazz age. The architectural details hit you next and you ask yourself if you have somehow stumbled into an interbellum murder mystery à la Hercule Poirot.
In 1930, Baron Empain, industrialist and financier, developer of the Paris metro, commissioned the villa to be built in the most fashionable style of the day: Art Deco. 80-odd years later and the villa has been a museum, home of the Russian embassy and headquarters of broadcaster RTL.
It is now the property of the Boghossian Foundation, which has beautifully restored the villa and dedicated it as a venue for artistic dialogue between East and West. It is worth visiting for the building itself, but the rotating exhibitions are also very interesting.
There are two interesting exhibitions at the moment. Heliopolis (until August 18th) looks at the creation of a new city in Egypt at the start of the twentieth century. Flamboyant (until October) invites visitors into the home of a fictional art collector from the 1920s and 1930s.