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THE BUILDING

The House of European History is located in the Eastman building, Park Leopold – at the heart of the European quarter in Brussels. The 25 acre park was opened to the public in 1880 on the grounds of the former Royal Zoological Garden.

The Eastman building was financed by a donation in 1931 from the US-business man and philanthropist George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak camera, to host a dental clinic for disadvantaged children. Construction took place in 1934-35 by the Swiss architect Michel Polak. The building has now been acquired by the European Parliament in 2008 through a long-term lease of 99 years.

          

Photo of original construction of Eastman building
Blueprint of Eastman building

Following an international architectural competition, the contract for renovation was awarded to the architectural group Atelier d'architecture Chaix & Morel & associés, France, JSWD Architekten, Germany and TPF, Belgium.

They designed a contemporary extension and renovated the building whilst maintaining the historic aesthetic. Specifically, the renovation involved building an extension on the courtyard area, which was enclosed on three sides, and adding three-storeys to the existing building.

This provided 4,000 m² of space for a permanent exhibition and 800 m² of space to hold temporary exhibitions as well as an events room for 100 people.

Restoration of the children's waiting room

Artists restoring muriel children's waiting room

The original waiting area of the Eastman building was designed with its young audience in mind, through placing colourful paintings of animals from the fables of French author Jean de La Fontaine.

The composition of ten paintings were created in 1935 by the Belgian artist Camille Barthélémy (1890 – 1961), using oil paints across 78 m² of cloth strengthened with a starch glue. Barthélémy originated from the Gaume region of Belgium and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels.

The paintings have now been lovingly restored and are on display in the former waiting room, for visitors of the House of European History.

Useful links

For more in-depth information about the Eastman building and the construction of the House of European History, please see the documents below, available in up to 24 languages: