Futuristic & Universal since I958

 

 

The story of the Atomium is, above all, one of love, the love that the Belgians have for an extraordinary structure symbolising a frame of mind that wittily combines aesthetic daring with technical mastery. The appearance of the Atomium is unusual and unforgettable. It has a rare quality of lifting everyone’s spirits and firing their imagination.

 

Diane Hennebert, 2008.

A seminal totem in the Brussels skyline; neither tower, nor pyramid, a little bit cubic, a little bit spherical, half-way between sculpture and architecture, a relic of the past with a determinedly futuristic look, museum and exhibition centre; the Atomium is, at once, an object, a place, a space, a Utopia and the only symbol of its kind in the world, which eludes any kind of classification.

The Atomium was the main pavilion and icon of the World Fair of Brussels (1958), commonly called Expo 58. It symbolised the democratic will to maintain peace among all the nations, faith in progress, both technical and scientific and, finally, an optimistic vision of the future of a modern, new, super-technological world for a better life for mankind.

 

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The peaceful use of atomic energy for scientific purposes embodied these themes particularly   well and, so, that is what determined the shape of the edifice.  At 102 metres high, with its nine interconnected spheres, it represents an elementary iron crystal enlarged 165 billion (thousand million) times. It was dreamed up by the engineer André Waterkeyn (1917-2005). The spheres, though, were fitted out by the architects André and Jean Polak.

 

The Atomium was not intended to survive beyond the 1958 World Fair but its popularity and success soon made it a key landmark, first of Brussels then internationally.

Half a century later, the Atomium continues, for that matter, to embody those ideas of the future and universality. And, among other things through its cultural programming, it carries on the debate begun in 1958: What kind of future do we want for tomorrow? What does happiness depend on?

Over and above the symbolic value linked to its history, the Atomium has become one of the icons of the city of Brussels: capital of Europe, with which it has a special relationship. Since its inspired restoration (2006), the landmark that many people call the most Belgian monument, is also a museum with its permanent collections and temporary exhibitions.

The completely steel-clad Atomium is a kind of UFO in the cultural history of Humanity, a mirror  turned simultaneously towards the past and the future, comparing our Utopias of yesterday with our dreams for tomorrow.

>>> A lot of books and DVD’s about the history of the Atomium and the Expo 58 are available in the Atomium shop.

Prepare your visit

 

 

 

>>> Download your guide book: English, Dutch, French, Italian, German, Spanish

>>> Click here  to download the map of the tour 

>>> Click here to download the brochure containing general information about the Atomium - 2014 season [also available : ES - IT - PT - RU]

 
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