Brussels venues dedicated to photography - Are you ready for a close-up?

20 January 2023
The piece "The world within " by Frédéric Stucin

In recent years, Brussels has been enjoying a renewed dynamism within artistic photography. Unlike cities such as Antwerp and Charleroi, our capital doesn't have a photography museum yet, but it more than makes up for this with several institutions dedicated to the art of "writing with light". Founding, reliable or on the rise? Discover them all!

TinyGallery – A tiny museum of amateur photography

Expo view at Geopolis, the Centre for Photojournalism

The very first photograph was taken almost two centuries ago. You really feel that when you walk into TinyGallery. This 'tiny museum of amateur photography' is an exhibition space for old and new photographs. Each picture tells you a story. The images are surprisingly close, contemporary and daring. You can witness the most important events in the lives of humble people: the arrival in New York, a Sunday outing, a train journey. The permanent collection consists mainly of historical pictures from the United States. Besides various themed exhibitions, TinyGallery also organises regular workshops on old photographic techniques and digital arts. Founder Olivier Guyaux is surrounded by several international artists. They continue, each in their own way, the spirit of spontaneous expression. 

La Nombreuse

Saint-Gilles now has a new, vibrant, approachable photo gallery-cum-studio, La Nombreuse. The collective was founded in September 2020 and the project is supported by a motley crew of photographers and visual artists, guided by art historian Charlotte Lalau. Téo Becher, Lucas Castel, Nicolas Catalano, Romain Cavallin, Martin Gallone, Solal Israel and Sarah Lowie join forces (and their considerable skills) to launch emerging contemporary photography talent. They aim to offer a springboard that bridges the gap between photography courses and cultural institutions, because they believe that "you don't learn everything during your studies". With innovative exhibitions, tours, free workshops and conferences, they are able to reach various target audiences. Be sure to check out their BeNombreuse magazine!

Géopolis – Centre du photojournalisme

Expo view at Geopolis, the Centre for Photojournalism

You’ll find Geopolis  on the first floor of the Ateliers des Tanneurs, an extraordinary, multipurpose venue in Brussels' Marolles neighbourhood. Ulrich Huygevelde and Thomas Kox – both passionate about geopolitics - founded this centre for photojournalism and education in 2017. By combining photo exhibitions and didactic exhibitions with events, podcasts and a radio programme, they aim to create discussions about today’s burning issues among a wide audience and young people. There is a need for explanation, analysis and reflection to understand the large flows of information about far-reaching geopolitical changes and climate issues. Both established photographers and young talent bring various pressing themes into focus. Ukraine has long been at the forefront, partly because of the expertise that both founders have built up in the region, but the Taliban, the decreasing freedom of the press, humanity’s waste problem and life in war and fragile peace have also featured.

L'Enfant Sauvage

Window and entrance of the gallery L'Enfant Sauvage

L'Enfant Sauvage, an exhibition and creation space dedicated to photography, is a 100% self-financed project, driven essentially by passion. Photographer Pauline Caplet opened the gallery in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis in July 2020. Having experienced how difficult it was for talented young artists and students to find a place to exhibit, she decided to open one herself. She is ideally placed to understand their needs. Showing local, Belgian and international photographers using various techniques, the programme does have a notable preference for analogue prints. Pauline works intuitively in a true "tribe of photography" spirit, creating an intimate exchange with a large and diversified public. Artist talks, workshops, screenings and book releases are also programmed throughout the year. The cherry on the cake is a little bookshop and many more projects in the pipeline!

Contretype - centre for contemporary photography in Brussels

Visitors to an exhibition at Countertype

Contretype was founded in 1978 by Jean-Louis Godefroid (1952-2013), almost a decade before Antwerp and Charleroi opened their photography museums. At that time, artistic photography was not yet valued as an art form. Reportage photography prevailed. After exhibiting in his flat for a while (Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Robert Mapplethorpe...), the centre moved into the renovated Hannon House until the end of 2014, and then into the Cité Fontainas (another prestigious building in Saint Gilles). Thanks to numerous collaborations with Belgian and international partners, many of the museum's activities are continuing outside of its walls. Contretype defines itself as an arts centre for the production, exhibition and distribution of auteur photography. Residencies for Belgian and international photographers provide the work for the permanent collection, which now includes work by some 40 artists. As a result, a finely woven portrait, of Brussels as a great place to live and create, is gradually taking shape.

Hangar - Photo Art Center / Gallery

Visitors to an exhibition at Hangar

After it turned out that 80% of the exhibitions in Hangar revolved around photography, the arts centre decided to devote itself exclusively to this branch of art. With about 8 to 10 exhibitions a year, visitors are introduced to a wide selection of contemporary photographic work, without any limitations on genre, territory or working methods being placed on the medium. Through partnerships with art and photography schools, special attention and support is given to young talent. Hangar's flagship event is the PhotoBrussels Festival, the annual event dedicated to photography in our capital. Created by Delphine Dumont (who now runs Hangar), the festival is a prime example of the new dynamics that have developed around photography in Brussels in recent years. Located in a former car factory, the institution occupies a surface area of more than 1,000m². Plenty of room for exhibitions, a (photography) bookshop, lectures, workshops and various photography-related events.

Fondation A Stichting

Visitors admiring works at the Foundation A Stichting

Since Fondation A Stichting opened its doors in October 2012 in the former Bata factory in the south of Brussels, the institution has amazed us time and again with striking photography exhibitions. Koji Onaka, Nicholas Nixon, Henry Wessel, Guido Guidi, Brussels-based Vincen Beeckman... are but a few of the names that have been showcased. The Foundation is located in an area of the city where industrial activity has predominated for many years. Like the many other cultural actors in the neighbourhood (BRASS, P.A.R.T.S., WIELS, and Galila's P.O.C), the photography platform actively participates in neighbourhood life. Its mission: to stimulate and support the creation, knowledge and preservation of the photographic image. After its forced closure in 2020 (due to coronavirus safety measures), the institution took the opportunity to review its operations. To the delight of photography enthusiasts, the Fondation A Stichting relaunched in March 2021 with a brand new exhibition calendar!