The European Parliament's visitors' centre or Parlamentarium must be one of the most modern museums in Belgium.
Perhaps museum is not the right word because on three floors an array of multimedia applications helps to shed light on the history of the European integration process and show how the European Parliament and other European institutions work.
The European Parliament's Anja Fuchs-Koenig: "The idea was to help the European Parliament connect with its citizens. We wanted to create a space that was entertaining and could show what the parliament is all about. A political decision to set up a visitors' centre was taken in 2005 and six years later the Parlamentarium opened."
"People do want to learn about Europe, how it works, how it functions. The Parlamentarium lets them discover Europe's institutions and procedures in a very interactive way, even for people not normally interested in politics. Many visitors are surprized they find themselves spending two or even three hours in the Parlamentarium."
The Parlamentarium occupies three floors. There are models of the three parliamentary cities, Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.
There’s a dark hall with photos relating to the conflicts that the European Union was created to end. This is followed by a timeline and photo wall detailing many of the most important events that have shaped Europe since the fifties.
Here too you will find treaty tables dealing with all the major European treaties and including replicas of historic documents that played a crucial role in the integration process.
On a lower floor you are introduced to how the European Parliament works today. Visitors can watch a short film that explains how the European legislative process works and is projected on a 360° screen.
All 751 European MPs were asked to record a video message, but there are also messages from ordinary citizens.
A special application also allows you to test how in tune you are with people's views about a European army and the role of EU institutions.
There is also a floor map of Europe with a special mobile application that allows you to discover more about European projects across the EU.
A handy multimedia set is available at the entrance that enables you to set all multimedia applications, videos and texts to your own language and follow a spoken commentary of all the exhibits.
The European Parliament's visitor centre or Parlamentarium is located just off the Luxemburgplein in Brussels.
It's open seven days a week and entrance is free. Information is available in the EU's 24 languages as well as English, French, German and Dutch sign languages.
Flandersnews.be / Expatica