Autoworld has grown into much more than a museum over the last 30 years. It receives visitors from all over the world, who are keen to see not only the permanent collection and the new areas that have gradually been created over the years, but also the numerous and sometimes spectacular temporary exhibitions that are held there.
Over the course of this year we will tell you more about the most memorable events from the history of our museum.
On 29 September 1986, Prince Albert (later King Albert II) ceremonially opened Autoworld. The purpose of this all-new museum was to house part of the fabulous collection belonging to Ghislain Mahy. This collection consisted of more than 1,000 vehicles: some had been restored, but many others were little more than wrecks.
Autoworld is located in the South Hall of the 'World Palace' of the Esplanade du Cinquantenaire, which was commissioned by Leopold II to mark Belgium's 50th anniversary.From 1902 to 1935, an annual car and bike show was held there (except during the war years between 1915 and 1919).Was this a foretaste of things to come?
In fact the site has been used for many different purposes. During the First World War, for example, it was used as a garage by the German army. In 1920, the Mundaneum was housed there. After the Second World War, the buildings served as a supply depot for the Ministry of Economic Affairs, as a storage area for sports equipment belonging to ADEPS (the physical education and sports agency for French-speaking Belgium)... and as a rest area for racing pigeons. Gradually, they fell into disrepair.Then, in 1984, it was decided that the whole area should be cleared in order to house part of the Mahy Collection. The enormous cockpit of a Caravelle, which no one was interested in any more, also had to go.
When the museum opened in 1986, visitors were able to admire some 230 restored cars from the Mahy Collection – mainly models from before the war.
The Autoworld adventure had begun ...