Worth a Trip: Verbeke Foundation
The town of St Niklaas, midway between Antwerp and Ghent, is home to Belgium’s largest Grote Markt (market square) and a baroque church dedicated to St Nick himself. But fans of modern art and lovers of all things quirky should make a beeline to the site of the Verbeke Foundation's enormous indoor/outdoor gallery, located 12km north of the town. The 12-hectare site, with 20,000 sq m of covered exhibition and function space, is unique the world over, though some have drawn comparisons, conceptually at least, to Japan's Benesse Art Site Naoshima.
This massive 'living gallery' is eclectic, with a collection covering art, nature, science, tech and engineering themes.
The site was originally the industrial headquarters of the freight and transport company owned and operated by the foundation's founder, Geerte Verbeke. An entrepreneur, collector and philanthropist, Verbeke is a fascinating and inspirational character who's almost always around, tinkering with something or installing something else. If you're lucky, you might catch him or his co-curator and wife, Carla, for a chat.
To get here, take the A11 between Antwerp and Bruges to exit 11–Kemzeke, then follow the signs or look for the golden arches.